Sunday, July 20, 2008

Texas Regulators Approve Wind Energy Transmission Project

One of the common problems associated with generating electricity is getting the power from the power generating stations to the places where people live. After all, nobody wants a powerplant in their back yard. And that turns out to be true for a lot of forms of power generation, including wind power. But now, the state of Texas has approved a $4.93 billion project to develop a network of transmission lines to carry electricity from the remote western parts of the state to major population centers in the eastern part of the state, such as Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, and Austin.

The new lines will be capable of handling as much as 18.5 gigawatts of electricity. For reference, the average household in the U.S. uses about 938 kilowatt hours of electricity in an average month (statistics as of 2005).

Texas is the largest producer of wind energy in the United States, producing about 5.3 gigawatts of wind energy—more than double California, which is the second largest producer in the U.S. In fact, Texas generates so much wind energy that the current transmission lines are unable to keep up and power producers are sometimes forced to disable their turbines even when the wind is blowing. The new transmission lines, to be completed by 2013, will help alleviate that problem.

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