Texas electric grid sets new wind generation record

HOUSTON Wed Feb 13, 2013 7:40pm EST

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HOUSTON Feb 13 (Reuters) - Texas posted another record for wind-power output earlier this month, the state grid operator said on Wednesday.

The amount of electricity produced from wind on the evening of Feb. 9 reached 9,481 megawatts, up 814 MW from the previous record of 8,667 MW set in late January, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) said in a release.

"As wind generation capacity continues to be added in ERCOT and additional transmission lines are being completed to accommodate that generation, we continue to set new records," said Kent Saathoff, ERCOT's vice president of grid operations and system planning.

With 10,400 MW, Texas leads the nation in carbon-free electric capacity from wind turbines, most of which has been built in west Texas, where the wind generally blows the strongest during the evening hours and in the spring and fall months when power demand is low.

Electricity was being produced by 91 percent of the installed wind capacity in ERCOT, well above the average 30 percent to 40 percent of nameplate electric capacity that wind turbines typically produce on an annual basis.

At the time, wind was supplying nearly 28 percent of the ERCOT demand, the grid agency said.

Wind accounted for 9.2 percent of the power consumed in Texas in 2012, up from 8.5 percent in 2011, ERCOT said.

"While wind generation over the course of a day can change very quickly, improved tools help us predict those patterns and enable us to reliably use this resource to its fullest potential," Saathoff said.

One megawatt can supply about 200 Texas homes during hot summer days and about 500 homes during other weather periods.

Wind farms expanded rapidly in Texas until 2009, when production began to overwhelm the existing transmission capacity available to move the power from remote areas of west Texas to large cities - such as Dallas and San Antonio - that consume the power.

Construction should wrap up this year on more than 3,600 miles (5,800 km) of high-voltage transmission lines in a $6.87 billion plan to expand the grid to eventually accommodate up to 18,500 MW of wind generation.

NextEra Energy and Duke Energy are among wind-farm owners in Texas.

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