Monday, February 25, 2008

Competitive Renewable Energy Zones- Texas leads the way

Texas, is now the national leader in wind production.  Yet it still faces the problem that many other states do, the wind isn't where the people is.  Let me now add a thought onto that.  If few people or industry are in area, it is unlikely that there will be a topnotch electricity transmission grid.
With the rapid development of wind farms in these sparsely populated areas of Texas this is fast becoming a problem.  Many of the transmission lines that can bring the power from the areas it is produced to the areas it is consumed are at full capacity.  This in turn lead to a catch 22, wind developers could not build wind farms where there is no transmission, and the states would not build transmission lines where there was no wind farms.
Texas is again leading the way in energy policy with the creation of Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZs).  This was part of TExas Senate bill 20, meant to facilitate renewable energy development.  These zones were named by a study done by the Electricity Reliability Council Of Texas (ERCOT) and the Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUCT).  They identified 25 zones where wind power could be profitably developed, which were grouped into 4 zones: the panhandle, mid-western Texas, the gulf coast and the McCamey area.   
Under the CREZ plan, the state will build high voltage transmission lines out to these areas to facilitate development of the in place wind assets.  Senate Bill 20, mandated large increases in the production of renewable power.  however, unlike a lot of legislation it also included mechanisms such as CREZ to enable that to happen.  This is a true public private partnership.  The state takes the necessary steps to allow development, and trust that the market will take care of the rest.
I think this is a great public-private partnership, and a innovative way to solve a problem that has been hamstringing wind power.

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