Renewable energy developments seem to be sprouting up everywhere in recent months.
Last week, Western Wind Energy began operating its newest 10.5 MW wind-solar project in Arizona while on Tuesday Duke Energy announced plans to build its fifth wind power project in Texas. Duke Energy also recently announced plans to build its second wind farm in Pennsylvania this year. Read more: Duke Energy Adds Wind.
The 202 MW Los Vientos II Windpower Project will add to the original 200 MW Los Vientos I in Willacy County, Texas, which was announced in August. Power from Los Vientos II will be sold to Austin Energy under a 25 year power purchase agreement, while power from Los Vientos I is being sold to CPS Energy, also under a 25-year power purchase agreement.
“Certainly the attitudes toward wind energy play a role in developing wind in these areas,” Duke Energy spokesperson Greg Efthimiou told Breaking Energy. “Texas understands the potential and some of the challenges.”
It’s a state, he said, that the company has already found amenable to its wind projects. One “in which we have had success in the past,” he said.
In 2005, the Texas legislature identified and established five wind-rich land zones as Competitive Renewable Energy Zones and as part of the legislation, the Public Utilities Commission of Texas also began development of 2,400 miles of transmission lines from western Texas, where land is comparatively cheap and wind is strong, to northern and eastern Texas where most of the major cities-including Houston and Dallas-are located. Read more on wind development in Texas: The Answer May Not Be Blowing In The Wind.
According to University of Texas Professor Ross Baldick who also runs a consulting service for electric utilities, it is government subsidies–not financials–that are making wind developments attractive for power companies.
But on a national level, support for wind has been lagging behind loan guarantees for solar. Though in 2010 nearly $13 million in loan guarantees were set aside by the DOE Loan Program Office for solar manufacturing, and another $1.5 million for solar generation, only $1.6 million in guarantees were dedicated to the wind industry.
Even so, Texas is among the states leading the country in renewables generation. See the statistics in this original Breaking Energy infographic: Local An Essential Factor In Renewable Energy.