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Texas Powers Up

By Andrew Aulisi and Tim Herzog

Texas has made recent headlines with its big plans to expand its electricity production.  Either way, the state will have big impacts for U.S. GHG emissions.

One plan by the Dallas-based utility TXU would spend $10 billion to add 9,000 megawatts of conventional coal-fired coal capacity through 11 new plants.  The new plants would increase Texas' CO2 emissions by 78 million tons, or 11 percent.

At the same time, Texas Governor Rick Perry announced investments of $10 billion in energy infrastructure and renewable energy to diversify the state's energy supply.

With significant investments in both the cleanest and dirtiest electricity sources, Texas is poised to make a big impact on U.S. GHG emissions.  For better or worse.

Texas alone comprises 11 percent of total U.S. emissions.  At 760 million tons CO2 equivalent (in 2001), Texas' emissions alone are more than those of Canada.

Texas' electricity profile is interesting.  Its wind generation just passed California, making it the number one state.  But Texas is also number two in coal consumption (behind Indiana), and number two in untapped wind potential (behind North Dakota).  That suggests that Texas could go much further in expanding its wind base.  While renewable sources (excluding hydropower) are two percent of U.S. electricity supply, they are only one percent in Texas.

 

One of the drawbacks of wind is that wind power is generally strongest when electricity demand is weakest: at night.  A new plan from Austin Energy could help bridge that gap.  Austin's plan promotes hybrid plug-in vehicles, which can run on either pure electricity or hybrid technology.  Since plug-in vehicles typically recharge at night, they could take advantage of Texas wind capacity when it is at its peak.

Austin Energy would like to expand its plan to the 50 largest U.S. cities, which, could make a large dent in transportation emissions, assuming the vehicles recharge through renewable energy.

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