Amid natural gas boom, Texas remains a leader in wind power

Source: Kevin Carmichael, Toronto Globe and Mail, Nov. 5 • Posted: Friday, November 8, 2013

A federal tax credit on renewable energy generation is spurring development in the United States, with Texas emerging as an unlikely leader in wind power generation.

Last year, Texas generated 12,600 megawatts, more than the state’s mandate of 5,800 MW by 2015. Although the state accounts for a major amount of wind generation, interest in developing the technology has waned with the rise of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling for fossil fuels.

Twenty-nine of 50 states and the District of Columbia have renewable fuel standards.

Although the wind blows hard across the state, the point is to not hold up Texas as a beacon of environmental stewardship, said Kate Galbraith, co-author of “Texas Wind Rush.” Due to the boom in fracking, solar firms for years have been trying and failing to persuade Texas politicians to establish goals for electricity generated from the sun. Scaling up wind power generation is facing similar challenges.

Canadian industry watchers and policymakers are taking note of the boom in Texas.

“It is public policy that determines the success of a renewables agenda, more so than the availability of the resource,” said Peter Prebble, a former Saskatchewan energy minister who now is director of environmental policy at the Saskatchewan Environmental Society in Saskatoon.

“The illustration the U.S. is giving us is it’s possible to drive wind and solar in a significant way using policy to do it”