Wind energy will leapfrog to overtake coal in Texas after the recent news that two large coal-fired power plants are expected to close in the next year.
Luminant, the utility firm, announced that in early 2018 it would close the Big Brown Power Plant and the Sandow Power Plant. It is expected that around 2.1 million homes in the Lone Star State would no longer be powered by coal with the closure of the power plants comprising to around 2,300 megawatts of electricity.
The wind farms in the Texas energy grid known as ERCOT (Electricity Reliability Council of Texas) is projected to fill the gap in electricity generation, according to an analysis issued by the University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute. The Energy Institute said that ERCOT would lose significant coal generation capacity, and at the same time, wind capacity would increase by nearly 4,000 megawatts by 2018.
The coal plant announcements reportedly came in as former Texas Gov., Rick Perry, now President Trump’s energy secretary, is pushing ahead with the alleged controversial electricity market plan to support coal and nuclear plants that are grappling to remain economically competitive. Meanwhile, the Perry proposal aims to keep coal and nuclear plants as a part of the nation’s energy mix amid the increase of more renewable energy like wind and solar, and the switch to natural gas.
Ryan Zinke, Interior Secretary, has been reportedly meeting with owners of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) in Arizona to try and find ways to keep the plant operational. Zinke said that one of the top priorities had been to search for economic paths to extend NGS and Kayenta Mine operations after 2019.