Wind Energy Takes Flight In The Heart Of Texas Oil Country

3.8.17

Georgetown, Texas, is a conservative town in a conservative state. So it may come as something of a surprise that it's one of the first cities in America to be entirely powered by renewable energy.

Mayor Dale Ross, a staunch Republican who attended President Trump's inauguration, says that decision came down to a love of green energy and "green rectangles" — cash.

When Georgetown's old power contract was up in 2012, city managers looked at all their options. They realized wind and solar power are more predictable; the prices don't fluctuate like oil and gas. So, a municipality can sign a contract today and know what the bill is going to be for the next 25 years.

That's especially appealing in a place like Georgetown, where a lot of retirees live on fixed incomes.

"First and foremost it was a business decision," Ross says.

City leaders say the debate over renewables never even mentioned climate change, a wedge issue in Texas politics.

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ERCOT Update

7.7.17

On May 19th,  ERCOT posted a Market Notice that ETT will be taking its 345kV CREZ transmission lines in west Texas out of service on a rolling basis for maintenance work and possibly to replace structure components “as part of a warranty claim.” These outages involve the following transmission elements:

·         Edith Clark to Clear Crossing

·         Riley to Edith Clark

·         Tesla to Riley

·         Tesla to Edith Clark

·         Clear Crossing to Dermott

·         Clear Crossing to West Shackelford

These circuits link the Panhandle wind development zones with the central CREZ network and the ERCOT system more broadly. ERCOT expects these outages to last through November 2018. These outages, in areas of the grid that already are experiencing congestion and increased loading, could make it more difficult for wind generation to reach the ERCOT market.

Last week, TAC issued a market notice that ERCOT will host a webex and conference call on July 15th for interested parties to ask questions about these outages. Parties may submit questions ahead of time by sending them either to their respective ERCOT Account managers or to ClientServices@ercot.com.  ERCOT will post questions its website and post an updated market notice once the questions and other information are posted.The call information is below. 

Topic:            Extended ETT Outages on Certain CREZ 345 kV Transmission Lines in Northwest Texas

Date:              Thursday June 15, 2017

Time:             02:00 p.m. to 05:00 p.m.

WebEx Link:                        http://ercot.webex.com

Meeting Number:                626 221 976

Meeting Password:            Outages

Audio Dial-In:                       1.877.668.4493

Texas Passes Bill Restricting Tax Incentives for Wind Farms Near Military Aviation Facilities

6.7.17

On May 29, 2017, the Texas Legislature passed a bill that may significantly impact the siting of wind energy generation facilities in Texas by prohibiting certain tax incentives to owners of wind farms near military aviation facilities. Specifically, if a “wind-powered energy device,” which would include wind turbines, is placed within 25 nautical miles (28.7695 miles) of a military aviation facility located in Texas, the owner would not receive property tax incentives under a tax abatement agreement or limitation on appraised value agreement (LAVA) entered into on or after September 1, 2017.

SB 277, authored by Senator Donna Campbell, takes into account existing wind farms in Texas. If a wind-powered energy device is installed or constructed within 25 nautical miles of a military aviation facility as part of an expansion or repowering of an existing project, the prohibition on receiving tax exemptions under a tax abatement agreement executed after September 1, 2017, does not apply. This exception, however, does not apply to LAVAs executed after September 1, 2017.

SB 277 does include a carve-out for tax abatement agreements and applications for LAVAs for which approval is pending on September 1, 2017. The bill stipulates that if a LAVA has not been executed as of September 1, 2017, but its application is pending approval, an owner will still be able to reap the tax benefits regardless of the project’s location near a military aviation facility. However, the bill is vague on whether a tax abatement agreement application or the agreement itself must be awaiting approval on September 1, 2017, to remain eligible for property tax exemptions.

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The Army’s First Hybrid Renewable Energy Project Is In Texas

6.4.17

DALLAS (WBAP/KLIF News) – The Army’s first hybrid renewable energy project is generating power both on and off post.  The Department of Defense-related project in Fort Hood includes about 63,000 solar panels that provide fifteen megawatts of power.

The project also features the Phantom Solar Farm, which produces 65 megawatts of alternating current.  A nearby wind farm in Floyd county has 21 turbines that support the project.

The program is expected to produce enough electricity to provide up to 40 percent of Fort Hood’s needs

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Solar Panels Renewable Energy Project Dedicated at Fort Hood

6.4.17

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — Military officials say the Army's first hybrid renewable energy project that includes both off and on-post power generation has been dedicated in Texas.

Ground was broken in early 2016 at Fort Hood for the Department of Defense-related project. Dedication ceremonies were held Friday at the Central Texas post.

A Fort Hood statement says the hybrid renewable energy project, featuring the Phantom Solar Farm, produces 65 megawatts of alternating current.

The Fort Hood site includes about 63,000 solar panels that provide 15 megawatts of power. A wind farm in Floyd County has 21 turbines providing 50 megawatts to support the Fort Hood project.

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Vistra Energy Acquires Solar Development Project, Strengthens Integrated Business Model

5.17.17

Vistra Energy (NYSE: VST), the parent company for TXU Energy and Luminant, today announced the purchase of the Upton County Solar 2 development project in West Texas. The purchase delivers on the company's strategic plan to further strengthen and expand its integrated businesses through enhanced retail solar offerings and diversity across its generation fleet. 

Simultaneous with the acquisition of the project, Upton 2 entered into a turnkey, fixed-price, engineering, procurement, and construction contract to deliver the 180-megawatt solar plant in the summer of 2018. The Upton 2 facility will provide a company-owned asset as a platform for offering significant, long-term, and economically viable renewable options to a variety of customers throughout Texas, including commercial, industrial, and residential customers.

"This purchase is an additional proof point of Vistra Energy's ability to uniquely couple our retail business with our commercial operations in a meaningful and beneficial way," said Curt Morgan, the company's president and chief executive officer. "It also shows our commitment to expand this model while providing significant advantages compared to a standalone retailer or generator."

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San Antonio Outshines Other Texas Cities In Solar Energy Capacity

5.3.17

San Antonio is the state's leader in solar energy capacity, according to a recent report assessing local "smart" policies across America. 

Within the last decade, growth in the solar energy industry has brought numerous businesses and new initiatives to San Antonio. 

CPS Energy, the city's municipal utility, for example, extended $15 million of funding to their solar photovoltaic rebate program in 2015 due to residential demand. Proposed changes to the solar rebate program could be in place as soon as June 1, affecting rules regarding installation, greater transparency for consumers, and a potential 10 cent increase per watt under the rebate.

How accessible are choices like solar panel roofs to citizens? Can solar energy be a viable, affordable alternative for San Antonio residents? 

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Texas Co-op BEC Develops Innovative Software to Enhance Solar Installations

5.19.17

Today, Bandera Electric Cooperative announced the release of their new cloud based software, Apolloware, a solution for monitoring solar and energy storage installations in real time. The software allows the solar array owner to receive enhanced financial benefit from energy generated during daily peak energy consumption which, in turn, helps accelerate the return on the investment. 

In addition, the software solution allows the utility to reduce system design and operation costs. This unique solution sets BEC Solar apart from all others. BEC developed Apolloware to allow solar members to monitor consumption, production and pricing in real time. 

BEC Renewable Energy Program Manager Miguel Rivera and Database Administrator Perry Holt test Apolloware cloud based software that monitor's solar energy output in real time. Apolloware allows solar array owners to receive enhanced financial benefit from energy generated during daily peak energy consumption which helps accelerate the return on the investment.

"Apolloware benefits all parties because it provides financial benefits that are correlated directly to the wholesale energy market," said William Hetherington, BEC CEO/general manager. "Since it is a cloud based solution, it is independent from the utility allowing autonomy and transparency of the data."

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ERCOT Reports Indicate Enough Generation Resources for Summer, Coming Years

5.2.17

ERCOT today released its Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) for the upcoming summer, a preliminary assessment for fall, and an updated Capacity, Demand and Reserves (CDR) Report for the coming years.

The operator of the electric grid and competitive electric market for most of Texas expects to have sufficient generation to serve forecasted peak demand under most scenarios during the summer months, June through September. The SARA report includes a summer peak demand forecast nearing 73,000 megawatts (MW), based on average peak weather conditions during the past 14 years. One MW is enough electricity to serve about 200 homes on a hot summer day.

"We set a new summer peak demand record last year, and we may set another new record this year," said Warren Lasher, ERCOT senior director of System Planning. ERCOT’s peak demand surpassed 70,000 MW nine times in 2016 and peaked at 71,110 MW on Aug. 11.

"At this time, we do not anticipate any generation resource adequacy issues during the coming months, although we could see a need for conservation in the case of extended extreme temperatures or very low wind generation output during peak conditions," Lasher said.

Total generation resource capacity for the upcoming summer is estimated at close to 82,000 MW. This includes nearly 2,500 MW of planned natural gas-fired generation. The total also includes about 800 MW of new wind and grid-scale solar additions that, combined, are expected to contribute about 350 MW over summer peak hours, based on historical performance.

ERCOT also anticipates there will be enough installed generation capacity to serve system needs this fall season, October through November. The preliminary fall SARA report forecasts peak demand of about 56,000 MW, with expected generation resources totaling nearly 87,000 MW. The final fall SARA report will be released in September.

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American Wind Power Reports Best First Quarter Since 2009

5.2.17

Washington, D.C. — America’s wind power workforce installed 908 utility-scale turbines in the first quarter of 2017, totaling 2,000 megawatts (MW) of capacity. This is the wind industry’s strongest start in eight years, according to a new report released today by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

“We switched on more megawatts in the first quarter than in the first three quarters of last year combined,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA, in releasing the U.S. Wind Industry First Quarter 2017 Market Report. “Each new modern wind turbine supports 44 years of full-time employment over its lifespan, so the turbines we installed in just these three months represent nearly 40,000 job years for American workers.”

The early burst of activity reflects how 500 factories in America’s wind power supply chain and over 100,000 wind workers are putting stable, multi-year federal policy to work. The industry is now in year 3 of a 5-year phase-down of the Production Tax Credit, and Navigant Consulting recently forecast a strong 2017 for wind power, similar to 2015 and 2016.

New wind turbine installations in the first quarter spanned the U.S. from Rhode Island and North Carolina to Oregon and Hawaii. Great Plains states Texas (724 MW), and Kansas (481 MW), led the pack.

Texas continues as the overall national leader for wind power capacity, with 21,000 MW installed, enough to power more than 5 million average homes. North Carolina became the 41st state to harness wind power, bringing online the first wind farm to be built in the Southeast in 12 years.

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