Wind Project Adds 200 Megawatts to Texas Grid

EDF Renewable Energy, a leading power producer in the green energy sector, has announced that its Hereford Wind Project reached commercial operation on December 22nd, 2014. The Hereford Wind Project is a wind power plant located on approximately 15,000 acres in Deaf Smith County southeast of the northern panhandle town of Hereford, Texas.

The Hereford Wind Project has the capacity to generate 200 megawatts of wind power, which is enough to power 55,000 homes. Since wind power generation requires no fuel and is fully green, with zero emissions, it will save about 375,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions every single year. That’s the equivalent of taking 80,000 cars off the road.

It’s been a banner year for wind energy in Texas. On March 26, 2014, turbines set a new wind power record, pumping out over ten thousand watts of electricity, almost 30 percent of the power in use by the Texas grid at the time. That’s an impressive percentage for renewables, and EDF’s plan is to make it even higher. Tristan Grimbert, EDF’s President and CEO, says that there is another 394 megawatts in construction to add to the 200 MW Hereford plant and another 472 MW already built. EDF is a power player in the renewables sector, with 3.1 gigawatts of installed capacity throughout North America, in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. EDF specializes in wind and solar power, but has a hand in just about everything else, from hydropower to biomass.

Most of the wind energy of Texas is currently being produced in the rural areas of West Texas and the northern panhandle, but the largest cities, like Dallas / Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio, are farther south and east. So with this boom in wind power, how to ensure the environmental riches aren’t squandered when production might exceed demand in these breezy, but less populated areas?

That’s where CREZ (Competitive Renewable Energy Zones) comes in. Spurred on by federal funding, wind power capacity in Texas expanded rapidly from 2006 to 2009. In 2008, with congestion of the existing transmission lines a concern, the Public Utility Commission of Texas launched CREZ, a project to construct an additional 3,500 miles of transmission lines, bringing the power from the more rural areas to the places of higher demand. As a result of these additional lines having been built, wind power curtailments, which are times that the wind power generation has had to be reduced because of the inability of the existing transmission lines to handle the generation capacity, have steadily fallen since 2011.  Among other benefits, this will help further drive down electricity rates in Texas. 

The $7 billion CREZ project was fully energized as of its scheduled completion date in 2013, and it will allow up to 18,500 MW of power to flow from the CREZ zones into the more densely-populated areas, ensuring the continued flow of clean, green wind-generated power. EDF’s Hereford Wind Project is one of those generators, hooked into the CREZ grid to supply power across the state.

EDF’s financial partners for the Hereford project were BNY Mellon, a leading investment bank, and MUFG Union Bank, a financial solutions provider for environmentally- friendly energy projects. MUFG not only helps finance renewable projects but owns interest in power-generating facilities, as well. In addition to having built the project, EDF will continue to manage and operate it under the aegis of its EDF Renewable Services division, which operates and manages over nine gigawatts of renewable energy projects in North America. 

Lead image: Wind turbine. Credit: Shutterstock.

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Holbert is the editor for the Texas Chamber of Commerce Energy Association newsletter, businessman, expert on Texas electricity and a lifelong Texan.

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