Using wind energy has always been a part of Texas’ history. In the early days Texan ranchers built wooden windmills to power water supplies for their livestock. That trend has continued to the present day use of wind turbines on huge wind farms at various locations throughout the state. You might even say that Texas has led the wind power revolution. Today, Texas is the largest user of windmills and wind energy production in the United States. It outperforms Iowa, the second largest producer of wind energy, 3:1 in wind energy production. This is no surprise with certain western areas of Texas generating a nearly constant wind speed of 17.1 miles per hour.
Wind energy has definite advantages over other forms of energy. First, it’s a renewable resource; as long as the winds are blowing there’s energy to be made. Secondly, wind energy is clean energy. It produces no greenhouse gases and consumes no other resources, like water, to provide energy. However, it is also considered to be a variable energy source because winds cannot be controlled. So when no wind is blowing no energy is being made. Wind energy, as it is currently used in Texas, is a supplementary form of energy that complements traditional power production methods.
Texas has about 40 wind farms located primarily throughout the western part of the state. These farms provide about 950 megawatts of total power for local electrical grids which in 2010 provided about 12.1 of the state’s total electrical output. The town of Roscoe, Texas boasts the largest wind farm in the world with 627 wind turbines covering over 100,000 acres. When all its turbines are working together, the Roscoe wind farm can generate enough wind energy to power over 250,000 average sized Texan homes. Due to Roscoe’s success with wind farming, future development of wind farms is occurring in the Abilene and Streetwater regions east of Roscoe.
National studies show that wind energy production falls into the 5-7 cents per kilowatt range, on par with or below the average cost of producing electrical energy by gas, oil, or coal. This cost is expected to drop by 2016, especially as the technology for producing wind energy becomes more cost effective. As for consumers, there are real benefits for them as well. One study showed that electric bills for Midwest consumers might drop between 60-200 annually if wind energy is used as part of the electrical power market. Follow that up with new data from the US Energy Department that consumers living in states where at least 7 of their electricity is generated by wind power enjoyed a decrease of 0.37 on their electric bills compared to an increase of 7.79 for consumers living in non-wind energy producing states. This bodes well for the future of wind energy in Texas. With wind power technology improving and costs decreasing for consumers, Texans can look forward to enjoying cleaner fuel consumption and lower electric bills to heat and cool their homes. Stream Energy Eagle Pass has good options if that is where you are located.
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