Wind generation briefly topped the 15,000-megawatt mark this month, achieving a new record for total instantaneous wind power output in Texas.
Wind turbines cranked out 15,033 MW of electricity at 12:35 p.m. on Sunday, reported ERCOT, the operator of the state’s main power grid. That output represented about 45 percent of all electricity consumed on the ERCOT grid at that time.
More than 8,800 MW of the wind power came from generators in West and North Texas, another 3,800 MW came from the South region (mostly around the Gulf Coast), and 2,300 MW came from the Panhandle, according to ERCOT.
“We saw high wind output throughout the day, ranging from just over 10,000 MW during the late night hours to this peak output during the noon hour,” said ERCOT Senior Director of System Operations Dan Woodfin. “Over the years, ERCOT has taken a number of steps, such as improving renewable generation forecasts, to allow us to operate the grid reliably on days like this.”
ERCOT, which stands for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, also reported that the share of the generation mix provided by wind on Sunday ranged from 35 percent and 46 percent. The average share for the entire day was just less than 41 percent, according to ERCOT.
Sunday’s output beats the previous wind generation record of 14,122 MW set on Nov. 17. However, the March 23 record for wind’s percentage of overall ERCOT load — 48.28 percent — remains untouched.
Texas has more wind power than any other state, with more than 17,000 MW of capacity already installed and another 2,000 MW expected to come on line within a few weeks. One MW is enough electricity to serve about 200 homes during a hot summer day.
Although wind generation is less reliable than generation from other sources — such as that from coal and natural gas-fired plants — the short-term production costs of wind can also be much lower. But does that mean this recent burst of wind power will translate into lower bills?
“Probably not,” writes the Houston Chronicle’s Ryan Handy in the newspaper’s Nov. 29 edition. “Cheap wind energy is often touted as a boon for customers, but distribution charges, retail mark-ups, and taxes and fees could offset any savings.”
R.A. Dyer is a policy analyst for TCAP, a coalition of cities and other political subdivisions that purchase electricity in the deregulated market for their own governmental use. Because high energy costs can impact municipal budgets and the ability to fund essential services, TCAP, as part of its mission, actively promotes affordable energy policies. High energy prices also place a burden on local businesses and home consumers.