Wind whipping Texas coal generation
Wind investments are paying off for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which set a new generation record last week providing 9,481 MW of power -- nearly 28 percent of system load -- at 7:08 p.m. on February 9th.
"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.
Since 2008, Texas has seen significant changes in the electricity market, to the point where wind power and natural gas prices have made large, capital-intensive coal plants uneconomic. Prior to ERCOT's February 9th record, wind power comprised 9.2 percent of total energy used in the region in 2012 and 8.5 percent in 2011.
The 1200 MW White Stallion was the last new proposed coal plant in Texas but its operation will not be realized due to permit setbacks, contract denials, and opposition from businesses and major environmental groups. Perhaps the biggest blow came when a court ruled in favor of Clean Air Act Standards.
"The White Stallion plant, like the recently mothballed Las Brisas project in Corpus Christi, hopefully represents the last dying gasp of 'new'coal plants in Texas proposing to employ technologies from the last century," Jim Marston, Vice President of the U.S. Climate and Energy Program at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Regional Director of EDF's Texas office, said of the coal plant's cancellation.