by: Ethan A. Huff
(NaturalNews) The race to develop alternative energy sources to offset traditional ones has been intensifying as states look to take advantage of federal incentives. Wind energy in particular is quickly becoming a hot new market, and none other than Texas is ahead of the game in this particular sector.
When Texas first deregulated electricity in 1999, it established a requirement that 2,000 megawatts of power be derived from wind by 2009. It was the first state to make such a move. Texas achieved – and exceeded – this goal by 2005, and is set to reach production of 10,000 megawatts of renewable energy by 2025.
Texas' Public Utility Commission is currently working on constructing a matrix of new transmission lines across the state that will accommodate the full capacity of the state's wind power potential. Since the grid can only handle a certain amount of wind energy in its current format, the system has to be expanded in order to handle the load.
The network is expected to be finished sometime between 2013 and 2015, and by the time it reaches completion, it will be able to handle up to 18,000 megawatts of wind power at its peak output.
But because wind energy can be fickle, literally "changing with the wind," it is difficult to rely solely on it for energy production. But Texas is forging the way in developing technologies that help to forecast the weather and control the storage of wind energy to accommodate changing weather patterns.
Interestingly, Texas is having considerable success with wind because it cut itself off from the rest of the nation during the New Deal of the 1930s. While other states were partnering to share energy and transmission lines with one another, Texas exempted itself from partnerships and remained independent.
Other energy providers in Texas are not so pleased with the success of wind power, particularly because it is heavily subsidized by federal grants that keep it artificially inexpensive. Many of them, including natural gas providers, are having a tough time competing and think that wind energy should have to survive on its own without the need for subsidies.
They also believe that wind energy providers should help pay for the cost of meeting reserve requirements when the wind is not blowing. Basically, the consensus is that the wind industry should have to abide by the same standards as everyone else in the energy sector.
The good news is that legislators are working with the industry to establish fair guidelines that will keep everyone happy and allow for the continued growth of clean, renewable energy.