The Wind Coalition has urged Texas regulators to keep wind power in mind when considering how the state could meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan.
Today, the Texas Public Utility Commission, the Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality are meeting jointly to hear invited testimony on the EPA's plan, which aims to cut carbon emissions from the power sector by 30% below 2005 levels. The Wind Coalition says it believes constituents and consumers can be well served by an approach that leverages Texas' home-grown energy resources, especially wind, solar and natural gas.
The coalition issued its comments to the Texas commissioners in writing, explaining the progress and benefits of wind power. In the letter, the coalition notes that Texas is the U.S. wind leader, with 13 GW of installed capacity meeting 10% of the state's electricity needs. And the coalition says there's a whole lot more wind to be tapped.
‘According to data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Texas' land-based wind potential at an 80-meter hub height is 1,901,530 MW, the best resource in the United States and the equivalent of 18 times the state's current electricity needs,’ the letter explains.
The coalition says that because wind power creates no emissions, the resource could greatly help the state meet emissions-reduction targets. ‘Wind energy is already providing consumer savings and emissions reductions; a typical 2 MW wind turbine avoids around 4,000-4,500 tons of carbon emissions annually,’ the letter says. In fact, the coalition notes that the installed wind projects in Texas already help avoid 25 million tons of carbon-dioxide emissions per year, ‘the equivalent of taking 4,075,000 cars off the road.’
Furthermore, the coalition says wind power is drought-resitant and requires no water, while traditional power generation is the second-largest consumer of U.S. water. In fact, the group says Texas wind power saves more than 7.8 billion gallons of water annually.
Environmental benefits aside, the coalition also points out how wind power helps boost the state's economy. "We see the dramatic economic impacts of energy development every day across our state," the letter says. "In some regions, oil and gas development is leading economic growth. In others, the more than $26 billion invested by the Texas wind energy industry is providing an economic stimulus to long-neglected rural areas."
Nonetheless, the coalition claims that, on a per-megawatt basis, wind power creates 66% more jobs than nuclear plants and 30% more jobs than coal plants. Altogether, about 26,000 Texans are employed in wind-related fields.
The coalition also maintains "wind is no longer "alternative' energy" and makes its case that regulators should promote and rely on local power options to meet final EPA goals.
"Texas is blessed with incredibly abundant supplies of clean energy, including infinite wind and solar resources, and a nearly infinite supply of natural gas. Working together, these Texas energy resources provide consumers with long-term price stability, reliability and affordability," the letter says. "Each has characteristics that are advantageous and, used together, can help us meet requirements under federal rules while increasing our energy independence."
The full letter can be found here.