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Texas CREZ Plan Could Become National Model

Oct 8, 2007 - Wind Energy Weekly

The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) on October 2 issued an interim final order in its high-profile “CREZ” case, designating five “Competitive Renewable Energy Zones” in West Texas and the Texas Panhandle and authorizing development of transmission lines needed to deliver electricity produced in those windy areas to customers throughout Texas.

The interim order essentially puts into writing and hammers out further details to what the PUCT agreed on when it met in July (see Wind Energy Weekly#1249). A final order, transmission plan, and budget are still pending before the PUCT but are expected to be finalized in early 2008.

CREZs are Texas’s designation, for transmission planning purposes, for suitable land possessing a renewable resource. CREZs are viewed as a potential national model to solve the “chicken-or-the-egg” transmission dilemma in which wind power developers are reluctant to build projects in areas that have strong wind resources but lack transmission, while transmission developers do not want to put in lines to such wind-rich areas without any generation facilities present. The order could enable construction of up to 22,800 MW of new wind power in Texas. The CREZ model has already been embraced by California and Colorado, with additional Western states also considering its use.

“While many states are talking about ways to bring more clean energy to customers and improve air quality, Texas is doing it,” said Mike Sloan, managing consultant of the Wind Coalition. “ Texas' proactive transmission process is drawing a

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has initiated a “Transmission Optimization Study” to develop options for delivering wind power from the five CREZ zones to customers throughout the ERCOT power grid, including Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio. Total wind capacity served in ERCOT’s studies, from both new and existing projects, will range from 10,000 MW to 22,800 MW. Each megawatt of wind provides enough electricity to power approximately 225 Texas-sized homes, the Wind Coalition said.