"The state’s High Plains region, which covers 41 counties in the Texas Panhandle and West Texas, is home to more than 11,000 wind turbines — the most in any area of the state.
The region could generate enough wind energy to power at least 9 million homes. Experts say the additional energy could help provide much-needed stability to the electric grid during high energy-demand summers like this one, and even lower the power bills of Texans in other parts of the state.
But a significant portion of the electricity produced in the High Plains stays there for a simple reason: It can’t be moved elsewhere. Despite the growing development of wind energy production in Texas, the state’s transmission network would need significant infrastructure upgrades to ship out the energy produced in the region."
"“Because there’s not enough transmission to move it where it’s needed, ERCOT has to throttle back the [wind] generators,” energy lawyer Michael Jewell said. “They actually tell the wind generators to stop generating electricity. It gets to the point where [wind farm operators] literally have to disengage the generators entirely and stop them from doing anything.”"
"wind farms across the state account for nearly 21% of the state’s power generation."
"Wind energy is one of the lowest-priced energy sources because it is sold at fixed prices, turbines do not need fuel to run and the federal government provides subsidies. Texans who get their energy from wind farms in the High Plains region usually pay less for electricity than people in other areas of the state."
"A 2021 ERCOT report shows there have been increases in stability constraints for wind energy in recent years in both West and South Texas that have limited the long-distance transfer of power.
“The transmission constraints are such that energy can’t make it to the load centers. [High Plains wind power] might be able to make it to Lubbock, but it may not be able to make it to Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston or Austin,” Jewell said. “This is not an insignificant problem — it is costing Texans a lot of money.”"
"the Public Utility Commission, which oversees the grid, is conducting tests to determine the economic benefits of adding transmission lines from the High Plains to the more than 52,000 miles of lines that already connect to the grid across the state. As of now, however, there is no official proposal to build new lines.
"“It does take a lot of time to figure it out — you’re talking about a transmission line that’s going to be in service for 40 or 50 years, and it’s going to cost hundreds of millions of dollars,” Jewell said."
"while transmission upgrades across the state have generally been made in a timely manner, it’s been challenging to add infrastructure where there has been rapid growth, like in the High Plains."
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