Red States Heart Wind
February 23, 2016
With an expanded network of transmission lines in the region, other states, including Missouri, can plug into Kansas’ wind energy resources to meet their own needs as well.
“We haven’t fully tapped into the potential that our region provides in terms of renewable energy,” Nickell said.
Wind energy was the fastest-growing source of new power-generating capacity last year, surpassing solar and even natural gas.
The industry got a boost in December, when Congress passed a spending bill that renewed a tax credit for wind energy production through 2019.
In January, Westar Energy, the largest utility in Kansas, ordered 122 turbines for a 280-megawatt wind farm in western Kansas. Siemens, which has a 300,000-square-foot factory in Hutchinson, Kansas, will build, supply and service the components of the wind turbines.
The same month, renewable energy appeared to get another lift when a federal appeals court declined to block the Clean Power Plan. Wind energy was expected to help the states comply.
However, the Supreme Court put the brakes on the plan in a 5-4 ruling Feb. 9. The death of Scalia a few days later created additional uncertainty, because the conservative stalwart had provided the decisive fifth vote.
Since 2003, wind developers have invested more than $7 billion in Oklahoma, creating nearly 5,000 jobs. As the fourth-largest wind energy state with more than 5,000 megawatts of capacity, wind energy produces 17 percent of Oklahoma’s electricity. That homegrown electricity saves my constituents money, as well ratepayers across the state. Oklahoma’s two investor-owned utilities, OG&E and ASP-PSO, estimate their use of wind power will save their customers nearly $2 billion in the future.
However, wind’s greatest benefit is its financial impact to local schools, counties and landowners. Wind energy returns more than $40 million annually to schools and counties, and over the life of current and pending wind projects, is predicted to pay nearly $1.2 billion to school districts and Oklahoma CareerTech. Within districts fortunate to have wind projects, millions in extra revenue has been used through new classrooms, science labs, technology upgrades, safe rooms, athletic facilities and more.
Wind energy also allows rural districts to reach the state-based per-pupil expenditure limit of 150 percent of the state average, meaning state funds previously supporting those districts are freed for other needs, and excess wind project funding flows into the state funding pool. Also, long-term purchase contracts and the 20-year minimum duration of wind energy assets, guarantees revenue for Oklahoma schools long after the zero-emission tax credit expires.
Oklahoma landowners benefit too by receiving over $22 million annually in
royalties, allowing family agriculture operations more flexibility. Wind energy consumes no water and pairs well with natural gas generation. Working together, wind energy and natural gas generation is moving Oklahoma further toward energy independence.
Wind power in the Texas grid set a new record at 9:20 p.m. Thursday evening when it generated 14,023 megawatts of power.
Wind turbines accounted for more than 45 percent of the grid’s overall load at certain points late Thursday as Texas increasingly relies more on renewable power. February has proven a particularly windy month thus far.
The previous peak wind record was set Dec. 20 at 13,883 megawatts, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which manages about 90 percent of the state’s grid load. One megawatt is typically enough to power 200 homes during peak demand.
The new record may not last for long as more wind farms are constantly being built in West Texas, the Panhandle and the Texas Gulf Coast.
More than 20 percent of ERCOT’s electricity capacity of 80,000 megawatts now comes from wind. And more wind is on the way. About 5,000 more megawatts of wind power are being built in Texas.
US federal regulators expect to issue key rulings by March for the 3GW Chokecherry Sierra Madre (CCSM) wind farm in Wyoming.
The Power Company of Wyoming (PCW) proposes to build the $5bn, 1000-turbine project on a mix of private and public land in Carbon County, including federal land administered by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
The BLM said it expects to complete an environmental assessment and issue a decision on a 500-turbine first phase in the first quarter of this year.