NTX Magazine Volume 1 - Page 39

Industry Spotlight ENERGY Smart Competition Spurs Innovation Renewable energy and the digital age A S the population of North Texas continues to grow, the region’s energy companies are growing their responsibilities and resources to accommodate the state’s ever-expanding green and renewable energy initiatives. Texas is known to have the most competitive market in the nation when it comes to power rates, largely due to the state’s energy deregulation policies, which became official at the start of 2002. Steady competition between suppliers creates significant benefits for business and residential consumers seeking the best available electricity rates. And as competitors strive to provide premium services at the lowest prices, consumer costs www.ntc-dfw.org are driven down, while service offerings and selections are continually expanded. Best of all, a tight competitive market within the power and energy sector is spurring innovation and infrastructure growth – and bringing new developments and technologies directly to your front door. The past 10 years have seen incredible changes in the Texas power industry. Innovative advancements and technology adoption has changed the way power is generated, distributed and consumed. Wind, solar and biomass are a few types of clean energy technologies utilized throughout Texas, and represent an overwhelming majority of the state’s economic activity in renewables. A combination of increased summer temperatures and an aging electrical grid, along with smart grid interoperability issues has heightened the need for electric infrastructure investment. Great strides have been made to implement renewable energy resources and other new technologies to make the area’s electric grid more reliable, greener and more efficient. are areas of land deemed suitable for renewable energy development. These zones enabled companies and organizations to build up their wind farms throughout West Texas and the Texas Panhandle. Although Texas currently leads the nation in wind development, it lacks the transmission capacity to move electricity from the wind farms to other areas of the state. In order to connect wind energy to North Texas and other areas managed by the ERCOT grid, it’s necessary to implement transmission lines. Dallas-based utilities provider Oncor Energy is playing a critical role in the development of the transmission lines from these renewable energy zones to major population centers like the DallasFort Worth area. The company is investing more than $1 billion on CREZ transmission line projects to provide the much-needed infrastructure for the state. These transmission lines will cost-effectively integrate wind-generated electricity into the electric market and are scheduled for completion in 2014. A Digital Conversion Driven by Wind One such initiative focuses on tapping Texas wind farms to generate electricity for the ERCOT utility grid, which manages 85 percent of the state’s electrical power, including North Texas (see “What is ERCOT?” on page 38). Several years ago, the Texas Legislature identified Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) throughout the state, which Another green initiative that continues to expand is the development of smart grids and smart meter technologies. The rollout of smart meters, which began in 2008, is giving North Texas one of the most technologically advanced grids in the nation, and is empowering consumers to rethink their energy use and their environmental impact. Oncor develops, operates and maintains infrastructure, such North Texas Magazine 37