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United States

Seeking higher prices outside Texas -- Seawest auctions green tags

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California wind developer Seawest Windpower anticipates earning a better price for the green attributes of a wind project it intends to build in the Texas Panhandle if it finds customers for them outside the state. If sold in-state, as Texas Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), the wholesale market value of a REC now stands at $4-5/MWh. But SeaWest says retail green tag markets outside of Texas have ranged as high as $25.

"Texas is overbuilt with wind," says Seawest's Dave Roberts. "So that means we would not get as good a price for the green part of our product if we sold it within Texas." There are more RECs available in the state than are needed to satisfy the REC retirements mandated by the Texas Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) rules, explains Mike Sloan of Virtus Energy Research Associates in Texas. The RPS mandate calls for state utilities to have 1000 MW of renewable energy project on-line by 2003 and 2000 MW by 2009.

SeaWest is requesting expressions of interest from potential buyers of the green attributes of power generated by the Caprock Can-

yon Winds project, planned to come on-line in Carson County in August 2003. It could be as large as 150 MW. The project's location -- outside the jurisdiction of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which administers the Texas RPS, gives SeaWest the option to sell green tags elsewhere at a higher price. And the project's siting within the Southwest Power Pool allows for greater access to markets as far away as Oklahoma and Missouri.

SeaWest is also looking for a power purchaser, which could be the same entity as the buyer of the green credits. If the price offered for the RECs or "green tags" is good enough, it would likely drive down the power purchase price, Roberts says. As a result of a similar solicitation, SeaWest recently sold PG&E National Energy Group both the power and the emissions credits from its 44.5 and 22.5 MW Mountain View Power Partners I and II wind projects in southern California (Windpower Monthly, November 2001).

Roberts says it is unlikely SeaWest will complete any wind projects this year other than the 25.2 MW second phase of its 50 MW Condon project in northern Oregon. It is trying, however, to line up power purchase agreements for a number of projects, all to be completed before the federal production tax credit expires in December 2003.

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