Texas Energy Options from Dynowatt Electricity
As always, Lone Star Staters are taking charge when it comes to finding solutions for the nation's energy needs. In the past, the solution was easy and relatively inexpensive: drill for oil. Bringing that prehistoric, hydrocarbon condensed sunshine to the surface was the stuff of fantasy and made many, many people rich. Indeed, petroleum helped establish the infrastructure that has made Texas what it is today. The future brings mixed blessings. The finite amount of oil in the ground requires scientists to devise new ways to power our twenty-first century lifestyles. This challenge is an opportunity, as the renewable energies that replace the old will be better for the planet and create jobs in the decades to come. The Texas Senate took another step in ensuring the state's long-term energy future by the passing of Bill 20 in 2006 and the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones it has created.
It might not be your first guess, but Texas is a big producer of wind energy. Geography and meteorology produce optimal breezes and gales in the state's northern regions. The United States Energy Information Administration notes that the state features over 2,000 wind turbines in West Texas. There are numerous more plans in the works to take advantage of the low-population/high-electricity potential areas of the state. Legendary oilman T. Boone Pickens has even expressed a desire to dot the land with those large, slowly turning fans. The great advantage of wind-generated electricity, of course, is that it harnesses energy that would otherwise be wasted. The downside, at the moment, is that those wind-rich regions are pretty far away from many of the population centers in Texas.
Senate Bill 20 was created to address this inefficiency with the creation of Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ). In order to encourage economic development, the Texas government is putting millions of dollars into development of electric stations and power lines. According to Companies and Markets, installed wind power capability will jump up to 21,664 megawatts by 2015, constituting a significant portion of Texas' energy needs.
Everyone benefits from this kind of situation. The average energy consumer is able to make use of electricity generated by a clean source. Further, the increased supply of energy could even drive down the price per kilowatt hour. (Remember those supply and demand curves from school? The higher the supply, the lower the demand will be for any specific unit of energy.) The electricity providers benefit because they have a ready supply of power to sell to their customers and a new and improved grid through which to sell it.
Perhaps the best effect of this legislation is the jobs that all of this construction creates and will continue to create over the next several years. These building projects will help blue-collar employees both in urban and rural areas of the state. The San Angelo Standard-Times reported in January of 2010 that, while increased oil drilling was providing paychecks to hardworking families, the grants provided for CREZ building will directly create jobs in Sweetwater that otherwise may not have existed.
This partnership reflects the reality that will effect meaningful change when it comes to the revitalization of the state's energy infrastructure. A small investment of state money becomes, in time, a boon for the private firms looking to do business in Texas. The same principle worked when the federal government, encouraged by then-President Eisenhower, built the Interstate Highway System. The project benefited individual, business and military interests, eventually leading to the blossoming of the suburbs and a sea change in American life. Once the additional transmission capacity is in place, those far-flung regions will be able to flourish, in addition to providing some small measure of their energy. This is also yet another instance in which public and private concerns are working together for the common good, leading the way to a more efficient, cheaper and environmentally friendly future.