Texas good news

The death of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) has not -- as feared -- put a stop to a major new wind project in Texas. Plans for 75 MW of wind near McCamey, to sell electricity to a subsidiary of Central and Southwest Corp, will now be going ahead in time to be eligible for the federal wind subsidy before it expires in mid 1999.

The project had been on hold because of problems with the bidding process. Information came to light only after a winning supplier had been announced that bids were based on over-stated wind speeds (Windpower Monthly, September 1998). As a result the process had been challenged by losing contenders. With the end of the PTC so near, pressure had been mounting to get the procedure back on track.

CSW's Larry Jones says the original winning bid, by a group headed by FPL Energy of Florida, can now go ahead -- even though CSW had re-opened the bidding to companies on its original short list. Texas regulators have told CSW it should proceed with the winning project, but only if FPL agrees to stand by the original timetable of completing the plant by mid 1999 -- and sticks to the agreed upon kilowatt hour price to be paid for the output.

On October 21, shortly after the finish of the US budget negotiations in Washington, CSW formally announced that FPL's project will go ahead in similar format to the original bid -- and that it will be on-line in time to qualify for the PTC. It seems unlikely that power can be produced for the agreed price, given that the wind speeds were over-stated. The details of the deal, such as who compromised exactly where, are not being disclosed. But CSW does say that one option for FPL would be to increase the number of turbines installed to produce enough electricity.