Forming Lines in Texas

A West Texas wind farm. Texas uses more wind power in its electricity mix than any other state.©

The company Pattern Energy Group—a wind and transmission developer—is planning to build a 400-mile transmission line in West Texas to bring Texas" wind power to the rest of the Southeast U.S. The state’s grid configuration has thus far kept wind power in state, but the new Southern Cross transmission line would allow Texas to sell its wind power to other states by 2016.

Texas is the largest wind-power-producing state in the U.S., and set a new record for wind energy generation in March 2010 when its wind turbines produced 19% of the state’s electricity mix—or 6,272 megawatts of wind power. In order to maintain and improve that picture, however, the state is in dire need of new transmission lines. As it now stands, lack of transmission lines in West Texas, where 89% of the state’s wind capacity is located, forces the state to shut down turbines on windy days.

In order to expand its transmission lines, Texas is spending $5 billion. That, in turn, will allow the state to double its wind power output to 18,000 MW by 2013, according to a recent Reuters article, and to sell its wind to neighboring states without such favorable wind and solar conditions. The Southern Cross line itself, at a cost of $1 billion, would extend from east Texas to northeast Mississippi, and have the capacity to deliver wind power to 10 Southern states. Remaining hurdles include lack of renewable energy targets for surrounding states and securing transmission paths for the new lines.

SOURCES: BusinessGreen; Reuters.