Report: Over $15 Billion in Savings Possible on Texas Electric Bills by Growing Wind Energy

Texas homeowners and business owners can keep more money in their pockets, and rural Texas ranchers and family farmers can receive millions of dollars more a year in land lease payments, by building new wind farms tapping into more of the state’s low-cost wind energy resources.   That’s according to a new report, “A Wind Vision for New Growth in Texas,” released today by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Wind Energy Foundation (WEF).  The data comes from calculations made using the U.S. Department of Energy’s new 2015 report Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States.

(Click here to download the report.)

“With stable policy we can grow wind energy and we can save Texas consumers over $15 billion dollars,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “Because of American ingenuity, wind energy’s costs have dropped by 66 percent in just the last six years and by continuing to invest in wind over a billion dollars in savings can be passed onto Texas families and businesses helping to grow the state’s economy.”

While American wind power continues to ramp up in Texas and across the country, with a near record amount of wind power under construction this year, 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 nearly 30,000 well-paying jobs lost.

“To keep this success story going in Texas, and across the country, Congress must extend the Production Tax Credit and the Investment Tax Credit this year,” added Kiernan.

According to Wind Vision wind energy can more than double from supplying the U.S. with over four percent of the country’s electricity today to 10 percent by 2020, 20 percent by 2030 and become a leading source of electricity in the U.S. by 2050 at 35 percent.  The more than $15 billion in total consumer savings through 2050 is possible through the stability of wind energy’s zero cost fuel prices, and would result from the U.S. hitting the 2050 Wind Vision target.

Wind can supply over 37 percent of Texas’s electricity needs by 2030 – enough to power over 15 million American homes – according to the new data. Added economic benefits for the Lone Star State include over $345 million dollars in added annual property tax revenue and rural Texas landowners would be paid by wind farm owners over $145 million in lease payments a year by 2030. Across the country, over 380,000 well-paying jobs can be created by wind meeting the 2030 scenario, up from 73,000 full-time jobs today. That includes supporting 142,000 manufacturing jobs by 2030, up from around the nearly 20,000 wind manufacturing jobs today.

“Texas already leads the nation in wind energy production, with stable policy this success story will continue to grow,” said John Kostyack, Executive Director, WEF. “That’s good news for Texas workers, ranchers, and rural communities, as building wind projects can deliver even more quality jobs and local economic development across the state.” Drought continues to be a major issue for Texas farmers and ranchers.

With over 31 billion gallons of fresh water can be conserved every year by hitting the 2030 Wind Vision scenario, much-needed relief can be supplied by growing wind. 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. Wind energy can help Texas avoid over 80.6 million metric tons in carbon pollution a year by 2030 according to the new data, equaling nearly 17 million cars’ worth of avoided carbon emissions every year.

Studies consistently show wind energy as having the largest role in cost-effectively meeting Clean Power Plan. Wind energy already supplies Iowa, South Dakota, and Kansas with more than 20 percent of their electricity. Wind supplies more than 12 percent for nine states. Wind can reliably supply even greater percentages of the electricity mix, according to a report by The Brattle Group, a utility consultant. The Brattle Group found wind supplied at times as much as 40 percent on the main Texas grid earlier this year and 60 percent on the main utility system in Colorado.

The rise of non-utility purchasers of wind power is on full display in Texas. 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 agreeing to Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) for wind energy being added to the Texas grid.

“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,” said Brian Janous, Director of Energy Strategy for Microsoft.

Jeff Clark, Executive Director of The Wind Coalition added, ““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. In Texas, household names like Dow, Mars, Procter & Gamble, IKEA, Walmart, HP, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Intuit, Unilever – and many more – are using wind energy to improve their businesses and their corporate bottom line. American industrial electric consumers increasingly want wind energy and are calling for greater access to wind power to help meet their corporate financial and sustainability goals. This report outlines the vision that will help make broader access to renewable energy a market reality.”

The new report highlights several other wind power success stories in the state:

  • 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 to build wind tower and turbines. Broadwind has produced more than 500 towers for wind power projects in the region.

Upgrading the state’s transmission resources will result in additional benefits, also featured in the report. The completion of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission lines a year ago plays a critical role in opening up Texas’s world-class wind resources to 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.

Up to 17,000 jobs are supported by wind power today in Texas, including well-paying manufacturing jobs at 46 factories producing wind power parts and supplies around the state. Wind energy has already attracted over $26 billion in capital investment to Texas and rural landowners currently receive $42.5 million a year in land lease payments.

Last month, over 2,000 business voices urged Congress to extend federal tax provisions, including the renewable energy tax credits, this year because they are “critically important to U.S. jobs and the broader economy.” Earlier this month, 580 clean energy companies representing a broad coalition of clean energy technologies 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.

A March 2015 Gallup poll found 84 percent of American voters want the U.S. to put more emphasis or the same emphasis on producing domestic energy from wind.  The majority of Republicans and Independents wanted more emphasis.  The full Texas Wind Vision report can be found here: