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Renewables Competitive with Fossil Generation in Texas

March 25, 2015 By Josh Kessler

The Dallas Morning News has published three stories recently that show how far both wind and solar have come in Texas.

TX Municipality Goes 100 Percent Renewable

On March 18, the newspaper reported Georgetown, Texas, said it had signed a 150 MW power purchase agreement (PPA) with solar developer SunEdison beginning next year. This, combined with a PPA with wind developer EDF last year, will allow the city of 54,000 to meet 100 percent of its electricity load with renewables. Whereas renewables are often priced at a premium relative to fossil generation, the SunEdison deal will provide electricity at a lower price than the city currently pays. Currently, Georgetown customers pay about 4 percent less than the statewide average.

Renewables at Parity with Other Retail Products

On March 5, the Morning News reported that three of the 10 lowest-priced retail plans in Dallas were based on 100 percent renewables. The article also notes that consumers who value the environmental benefits but are not willing to pay a significant premium to buy it are making the switch now that the costs are comparable. As the nationwide leader in wind energy, Texas accounts for 21 percent of the US’ installed wind capacity according to data from the American Wind Energy Association, giving the state an abundant source of renewables with which to supply customers.

Wind Transmission Program Threatened

On February 13, the Morning News published an article on the status of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) that have been a key driver for wind development in Texas. The CREZ project consists of $7 billion of investment in five high-voltage transmission corridors that bring power from wind farms in West Texas to load centers in the eastern part of the state. The project was completed last year, and the system is already nearing full capacity again, thanks to the ongoing wind energy boom.

However, the Public Utility Commission Chairwoman Donna Nelson has suggested the state is overpaying for transmission and has proposed allocating a greater portion of CREZ costs to wind projects. This may be leading developers to avoid committing to projects.

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