Texas Wind Farms Survive Hurricane Harvey

Simply put, many wind farms in coastal Texas weren’t affected by Harvey’s highest-level winds. And the turbines that did experience those extreme conditions, performed as expected and shut down for self-preservation, or when the local grid system failed.

How Will Hurricane Harvey Affect Texas Wind Farms?

To date, no wind farm in the United States has been destroyed by a hurricane. Neither Hurricane Iselle (Hawaii, 2014), Hurricane Sandy (New Jersey, 2012), nor Hurricane Irene (Delaware, 2011) harmed wind farms. Wind farms in hurricane-prone coastal zones are frequently designed to withstand hurricane-force winds, up to level Category 3 hurricanes. For self preservation purposes, wind turbines automatically shut down when wind speeds reach excessive levels. Hurricane Harvey is slated to become a Category 3 storm, and may test the limits of turbine engineering.

How Can the Southeast Benefit from Wind Energy in Texas?

It’s true what they say, everything is bigger in Texas…and that includes the wind energy industry! Texas is number one in the nation for wind energy production with over 20 gigawatts of installed capacity. With such a fantastic and cheap wind resource, is there any way for the Southeast to reap the benefits? Pattern Energy Group LP (Pattern Development) has created a solution: Build a new transmission line that can deliver 2,000 megawatts of clean, abundant, and cheap wind energy to our region.

Proposed Wind Power Transmission Project Would Generate $3.9 Billion for Louisiana, Mississippi

The new study highlights the beneficial job and economic development impacts associated with the proposed power line. According to the study, the Southern Cross Transmission project will provide significant economic benefits within Louisiana, and Mississippi, including $3.9 billion in total direct, indirect, induced and fiscal economic impact. The benefits primarily stem from construction, potential local tax revenue, and operations. Notably, the benefits from low-cost wind power associated with the transmission project were not included in the analysis, suggesting a conservative analysis.

Delivering low-cost renewable energy to the Southeast

Wind resources from western Oklahoma and Texas – where the Clean Line and Pattern Energy transmission line projects will source wind – are being marketed at prices around $20-30 per MWh. That’s comparable to the price of operating a modern natural gas power plant, making wind not only cost-effective but a guaranteed low-cost electricity source for decades in the future.

Wind Power Provides 40% of Electricity to Southwest Power Pool

Late in the evening on February 18th, wind energy provided more energy to the Southwest Power Pool electric grid than coal, natural gas or nuclear power. At roughly 11PM, wind power generated nearly 40% of all the electricity in the SPP region, which includes Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and portions of New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. Meanwhile, the region received the remainder of its electricity from coal (37%), natural gas (11%), nuclear (10%) and hydro power (2%). That’s right: renewable energy provided more energy than either fossil fuels or nuclear reactors.

Favorable Environmental Review Green Lights Wind Energy Power Line Project

The favorable environmental assessment helps pave the way for up to 4,000 megawatts of wind power to be delivered into the south. That amount of wind power could generate as much electricity consumed by nearly 1.5 million southern homes and would more than double the amount of wind power purchased in the region. Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, the Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) are already purchasing over 3,000 megawatts of wind power, with utilities planning to purchase gigawatts more.

Lengthy Environmental Review Covers Bases for Wind Power Transmission

The Plains and Eastern Clean Line, a high voltage direct current transmission project, would connect more than 3,500 megawatts of high quality, low cost wind power from western Oklahoma and Texas deep into Arkansas and Tennessee. The 720 mile long power line is presently undergoing a federal environmental impact statement review by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Weighing in at 3,700 pages, the hulking review document exhaustively covers just about any impact the project may have.

Wind Power Transmission Project Could Create Tens of Thousands of Jobs

The Plains and Eastern Clean Line project would connect up to 4,000 megawatts of wind power capacity to the southeast. As part of the federal Department of Energy’s Environmental Impact Statement review, the DOE estimates the socioeconomic impacts of the proposed 720-mile high voltage direct current transmission project. Job creation estimates are included in the socioeconomic impacts portions of the EIS. Based on the EIS jobs estimates, lifetime job estimates may conservatively approach tens of thousands of jobs for the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project.

Wind Power Transmission Project Would Provide Health Benefits

A newly proposed transmission project would connect high quality wind power to the southeast. The proposed Plains and Eastern Clean Line project would provide up to 4,000 megawatts of wind power from western Oklahoma and Texas to the southeast. The project is currently undergoing a federal Department of Energy Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) review process to evaluate potential impacts from the 720-mile high voltage direct current transmission project. Instead of focusing solely on negative impacts, the EIS also weighs a few of the benefits of the proposed project.