Wind energy brings big savings for Texas consumers
While wind energy already produces big savings for Texas homeowners and businesses, they’re about to get even bigger according to a new report – with cumulative savings reaching $15 billion through 2050.
This month, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Wind Energy Foundation released A Wind Vision for New Growth in Texas, a new report using U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) data that showcases numerous economic and environmental benefits made possible by tapping into the state’s wind energy resources.
According to the DOE’s Wind Vision report, released earlier this year, wind can more than double the amount of electricity it supplies in the U.S., from just over four percent today to 10 percent by 2020, and then double again, supplying 20 percent by 2030, before becoming a leading source in the U.S. by 2050 at 35 percent.
AWEA and WEF looked at the state specific data and found that by 2030, wind will supply over 37 percent of Texas’s electricity needs – enough to power over 15 million American homes.
Besides electric bill savings, Texans have a lot to look forward to as the state taps into more of its world-class wind energy resources.
Added economic benefits include over $345 million dollars in added annual property tax revenue, and rural Texas landowners would receive over $145 million in lease payments each year by 2030. These are resources that can help family farmers and ranchers stay on their land, or that rural communities can use to improve roads, schools, and health care facilities.
While Texas already leads the nation with 17,000 wind supported jobs, building more wind farms and more parts and supplies at its 46 wind-related factories will create even more well-paying jobs.
Across the country, over 380,000 jobs will be created by hitting the 2030 target, up from 73,000 today according to Wind Vision. That includes 142,000 manufacturing jobs, up from the current 20,000.
Environmental benefits too
Wind energy will also help Texans combat frequent droughts, as it can save 40 billion gallons of water annually by 2030. And with the arrival of the Clean Power Plan, the nation’s first ever rule to limit carbon pollution from existing power plants, Texas can go big with wind to cut carbon emissions, helping the state avoid the equivalent of 17 million cars’ worth of avoided carbon emissions every year.
Report profiles wind energy success stories
The new report also highlights several other wind power success stories in the state, including the rise of American businesses choosing to invest in low-cost wind energy to balance their bottom-lines while keeping their carbon footprint low.
For example, the Tyler Bluff Wind Farm, a project owned by EDF Renewable Energy, will supply Procter & Gamble’s North American Fabric and Home Care plants with enough electricity to meet all of their needs. These plants produce well-known brands such as Tide, Gain, Downy, Dawn, Cascade, Febreze, and Mr. Clean. Other clean-tech giants, including Facebook, Microsoft, and Google, have also made headlines in Texas for investing in wind farms or signing Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) to add wind energy to the Texas grid.
Microsoft’s Director of Energy Strategy Brian Janous noted, “As Microsoft works toward a lower carbon energy supply for our cloud services, wind continues to offer an attractive option for achieving this objective in a cost-effective manner.”
Jeffrey Clark, Executive Director of the Wind Coalition, explains, “Corporate America, especially American manufacturers, are embracing wind energy because it provides power that is cleaner and cheaper, while bringing long-term price stability to their business planning. American industrial electric consumers want wind energy and are calling for greater access to wind power to help meet their corporate financial and sustainability goals.”
Other success stories highlighted in the report include:
- Panhandle Wind 1 & 2 These Pattern Energy owned and operated wind farms have been an economic boon for Carson County. The projects will inject more than $200 million into the local communities during the first 25 years of operation.
- Georgetown, Texas became one of the largest municipally owned utilities in the U.S. to supply its customers with 100 percent wind and solar power – primarily to cut costs for its customers.
- Broadwind Energy employs 250 Texas workers who build wind towers and turbines. Broadwind has produced more than 500 towers for wind power projects in the region.
Staying on the path to continued success
Upgrading the state’s transmission resources is already starting to pay off. Last year’s completion of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission lines plays a critical role in opening up Texas’s world-class wind resources for development. That success will soon be replicated in other parts of the Plains and the Midwest, which are following suit with major new transmission upgrades.
While American wind power continues to ramp up in Texas and across the country, with a near record amount of wind power under construction, Congress has yet to extend the renewable energy Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit this year.
Wind installations in the U.S. dropped 92 percent in 2013, the last time Congress did not provide wind power with policy stability. That resulted in a drop in private investment of $23 billion and the loss of nearly 30,000 well-paying jobs.
That’s why over 2,000 business voices urged Congress last month to extend federal tax provisions this year, including the renewable energy tax credits, because they are “critically important to U.S. jobs and the broader economy.” Earlier this month, 580 clean energy companies representing a broad coalition sent a letter to Congress calling for an extension of the renewable energy tax credits in order to “help build the economy, create jobs, and deliver a safer, healthier energy future.”
To continue this success story in Texas, and all across the country, Congress must extend the Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit this year.