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INTEGRATED RESOURCE PLAN DECISION HOLDS KEY TO WIND FUTURE IN TEXAS

Wind energy is clearly breaking through in Texas with projects under way by New World Power/Westinghouse, assembling Enercon turbines for a project with Texas Utilities; Kenetech, which is doing construction work on a project with LCRA; and Zond, which is involved in the ongoing utility verification programme for wind plant, co-sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute and the Department of Energy. Texas Utilities may choose wind as the technology for the renewables specified in its ten year integrated resource plan.

With Westinghouse close to assembling turbines and two projects underway in Texas, wind power development in the lone star state is clearly happening. Westinghouse is close to deciding to assemble Enercon wind turbines from Germany at its Round Rock plant near Austin and preliminary construction of a total of 31-41 MW of American Kenetech Model 33M-VS and Zond Z-40 turbines is in full swing. This spring ground should also be broken for another larger project -- 40 MW of Enercon E-40 units being put in the ground by New World Power Corp, an American wind power developer.

Within a decade Texas could see about 600 MW of wind projects on the basis of what is now proposed. The idea fits Texans' need for self-sufficiency as the state's oil development slows. Kenetech Windpower and the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) hope to build a total of 250 MW. In addition, Texas Utilities may choose wind as the technology for the 340 MW of renewables specified in its ten year integrated resource plan.

Construction is now under way for a Kenetech project for LCRA and possibly the City of Austin, the state capital of Texas. Foundations were already being laid last month in Culberson County and installation of towers is expected in May or June, says Bud Grebey, speaking for Kenetech. It is hoped the first phase will consist of 35 MW, or 112 Model 33M-VS turbines. Financing was announced in January for 25 MW of power -- from 80 Model 33M-VS turbines -- that will be sold to the LCRA. And in December electric utility commissioners of the City of Austin recommended that the city buy 10 MW of power from the project, though a final decision was not expected until early March, said Tom Foreman, LCRA's manager of electricity planning and regulation. However, he said Austin is expected to approve the purchase, bringing the total developed this year to 35 MW. And if Austin decides against the 10 MW, he says the initial 25 MW will go ahead as planned. According to the city, the long term levelised price will be $0.0499/kWh, or $0.0608/kWh including transmission and wheeling costs.

LCRA has contracted to buy 50 MW overall under a power purchase agreement and was originally going to keep 20-25 MW for itself and re-sell the remainder. But Foreman says the utility was unable to sell the 15 MW balance to members of the so-called Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which consists of utilities covering most of the state, partially because of the cost of transmission from the plant, 400 miles from LCRA's service area. Ultimately Kenetech and LCRA have announced they will build 250 MW in several phases starting with the first phase this year.

A 6 MW wind plant, to consist of the first dozen of Zond's new 500 kW Z-40, may be operating at a Fort Davis site by mid summer. The joint effort, between Central and South West Corp, is part of the utility verification programme co-sponsored by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Department of Energy. Only two of the turbines have so far been installed, for testing in Tehachapi, California. The road for the site had already been constructed by last month, said EPRI's Earl Davis. The turbines are to be shipped in the spring or early summer and a formal dedication is expected in September.

Lastly, ground breaking and the start of construction are expected for a 40 MW plant at Big Spring by New World Power for Texas Utilities (TU), the state's largest utility. It is to be on line by the fall of 1996, says TU's Kathi Miller. But the utility's 1995 Integrated Resource Plan from 1995 to 2004 must first be approved by the state Public Utilities Commission. Hearings start on March 14 but a decision is not expected until August, says Miller. TU is planning 340 MW of wind or other renewable resources by 2004, backed up by 306 MW of gas as wind is intermittent. Of Kenetech's lawsuit against New World and Enercon (page 22), Miller says "[New World] assure us they're in good shape." She adds. "We're not anticipating any delay because of the lawsuit."

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