Diana Liebmann in San Antonio Express-News: Developers who anted up deserve power line priority

08/02/2010


In parts of West Texas, wind turbines extend across rocky mesas as far as the eye can see, turning otherwise unproductive land into a source of clean, renewable energy. Our state has world-class wind resources, and wind developers want to expand generation into the area of the state with the best wind resource.

There has been just one problem: The Panhandle lacks transmission lines to carry the power generated by wind to consumers around Texas.

But that's changing. On Friday, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUC) approved a plan to bring needed transmission lines into the windy Panhandle. In 2005, the Texas Legislature established the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) process to build transmission lines to areas with exceptional wind resources like West Texas and the Panhandle. Local residents want to capture their wind generation potential and reap the economic benefits of job creation, new income for landowners and tax revenues for school districts and cities.

In reaching its decision, The PUC required wind developers that wanted to use the new lines to demonstrate a financial commitment to develop wind projects by putting collateral at risk. To meet the PUC's financial threshold, some wind developers anted up more than their fair share, and some wind developers made no commitment at all.

In the coming years, as the transmission lines are brought on-line and become oversubscribed with new wind projects from a myriad of developers — the companies that made the financial commitment necessary to achieve approval for the development of these transmission lines should be given priority to remain on-line and generate electricity.

This article has been excerpted from the San Antonio Express-News. To read the full article visit the newspaper's website by clicking here.

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