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Blog Jul 28, 2020

Texas Electricity Sources

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Texas Electricity Sources

Did you know that in 2019, Texas generated more electrical power than any other state, producing almost twice the amount generated in Florida? And that Texas is the highest energy-consuming and energy-producing state in America? Did you also know that the industrial sector, the petrochemical plants, and refineries, account for almost half the energy used in the state? Here are some insights on Texas’ lustrous electricity sources.

Where does Texas get its electricity?

Texas gets its electricity from several sources. Below is a list of some of the state’s major electricity sources.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is majorly found in the regions around the Permian Basin in West Texas. Other areas known to have natural gases are the areas around South-Central and North-East Texas.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), in 2016, Texas contributed about 25% of natural gas consumed in the U.S. In fact, 25 percent of U.S. natural gas reserves are located in Texas. It is also the major contributor (50%) to the state’s electricity grid.

Wind Power

Wind power is another major source of electricity in Texas. In 2018, wind contributed 18.6% of the total electricity consumed in the state. Generally, Texas has always been the leading source of wind power in the country, thanks majorly to the strong West Texas winds. Since 2014, the Texas wind turbines have generated more electric energy than the state’s two nuclear energy plants.

Solar

Texas’ Solar power contribution to the state’s electricity grid is still relatively small as it contributed only 1.3 percent to the grid in 2018. However, solar production estimate in 2019 indicates an increment of 0.8%. Therefore, while it is still a relatively small source of electricity, it is growing fast.

One thing that makes the production of solar power successful in Texas is the intense solar radiation experienced in Western Texas. Moreover, unreliable wind power makes solar energy a more dependable source for satisfying the high electricity demands, particularly during the summer period. It is projected that by the end of 2020, solar power will contribute roughly 3,000 megawatts to the state electricity grid.

Coal

Texas is one of the largest producers of lignite coal in the country. In fact, coal contributes around 40% of the state’s electricity. Lignite coal is a type of soft sedimentary rock consisting of naturally compressed peat. It is found in narrow stretches in areas around the Texas Gulf Coast Region.

Coal power plants are usually built in areas close to surface mine. However, the heightened health and environmental pollution concerns around coal mining, combined with competitive prices from other sources of energy e.g. solar power and natural gas, are causing a decline in Texas’ coal energy contributions.

What is the main source of energy in Texas?

Texas has 4 electric grids. The main grid, managed by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), serves around 75% of the population and is separate from the larger interconnected power system that connects the Western and Eastern United States. Consequently, the grid is not under Federal oversight and it’s the only exception among the 48 contiguous states that has its own electricity grid.

As to where the electricity comes from, Texas has various sources of energy. Initially, coal and natural gas were the main sources of energy. However, things have changed lately and wind energy generation which contributes approximately 8,700 megawatts has taken over from coal as the main source of energy. Other contributors to the state’s grid include solar which contributes about 2,000 megawatts and natural gas which contributes over 10,000 megawatts.

How much Texas energy is renewable?

According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas 2019 data, Texas produced more energy from renewable sources than it did from coal. During the same year, energy facilities in Texas generated 21.5% energy from renewable sources (biomass, hydro, solar, and wind) while Coal contributed 20.3% of the total energy produced in the state. From the 21.5% energy generated from renewable sources, 0.11% came from biomass, 20.01% came from wind, 1.15% solar, and 0.25% hydro.

These figures are important because for a long time now, critics of renewable energy have argued that these sources are unsustainable and that its grid cost will get out of hand before we reach the 20% mark. According to TXP-Ideasmiths et al (2018), the effects of renewable energy on wholesale electricity prices have been immense. ERCOT customers saved a whopping $5.7 billion dollars in electricity charges from 2010 to 2017 compared to the amount they’d have paid if they were using electricity from non-renewable sources. In Texas, renewable sources of energy have contributed to a decrease in retail electricity prices.

Where are the power plants in Texas?

There are several power plants spread across different parts of Texas. For instance, there are over 25 solar farms in Texas the largest being Uptown Solar 2 and Midway Solar which is located in Uptown and Pecos counties respectively. Other counties with solar plants include Brewster County, San Antonio, Brackettville, Brewster County, Webberville, Bexar County, Presidio County, and El Paso, among others.

For the nuclear power plants, there is the South Texas project generating station and Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant which are located in Matagorda County and Somervell County respectively. Wind farms are located in Scurry, Kinney, Glasscock, Castro, Baily, Lamb, Nolan, Taylor, Borden, Webb, and Willacy among others. For Hydro-power stations, there are some in Val Verde County, Colorado, Bryan County, Rio Grande, Bosque and Hill counties, and Llano and Burnet counties.

The power stations for coal are located in the following counties: Rusk, Robertson, Wilbarger, Bexar, and Lamb County. Additionally, Texas has 6 biomass power plants i.e. Texarkana Mill, Woodville renewable power, Snider industries in Marshall, Rio Grande Valley in Santa Rosa, Aspen Biomass power plant in Lufkin and lastly, Nacogdoches generating facility.

Texas has numerous sources of energy and in fact, generates too much energy that has posed a challenge in the past couple of years! Since supply has by far superseded demand and the state does not set electricity prices, the high production rates have made it difficult for some energy companies to compete.

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