On the national level, Texas leads the country in wind power generation. In 2018, according to the Energy Information Administration, Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, and Kansas accounted for half of the 270-megawatt hours of power generated by wind turbines in the United States. Over the past three years, Texas has produced at least 25 percent of total US wind power generation annually.
A large amount of the Loan Star State’s wind generation capacity was developed between 2006 and 2009, when some 7,000 megawatts came online. The big breakthrough came in 2008 when the Public Utility Commission of Texas approved the development of the state’s transmission system to facilitate the transfer of energy throughout the state. The PUC approved the creation of five competitive renewable energy zones (CREZ) and the transfer of 18,500 megawatts of wind from these zones to other parts of the state.
The expansion of transmission lines was necessary because most of the wind turbines are in the rural western and northern parts of Texas, but most energy demand is needed in the major cities in the south and east.
Before the grid expansions were built, ERCAT curtailed large amounts of wind power to prevent the grid from becoming overwhelmed. The excess wind power also led to prices dropping into negative territory in western Texas when power generation levels peaked.
The grid developments had the desired effect, with curtailments and negative prices dropping sharply by 2014.