Friday, December 18, 2009

Wind Energy - Is This New Texas Gold?

We've heard a lot about the environmental benefits of wind energy. In windy areas of the country, this untapped power source has the potential to produce a lot of electricity. But who else is benefiting? In Texas, a surprising number of oil companies are starting to get into wind. Here's a look at Texas's wind energy boom, and the increase in wind power that's happening in other states.

GE has a one and a half billion dollar contract to supply turbines and maintenance for an Oregon wind farm over the next decade, a project expected to create about four hundred and fifty jobs. T. Boone Pickens, Texas oilman, is getting behind wind power in his state, and wind farms are popping up all over in the American Midwest. That's because wind is worth a lot of money right now.

Currently, US residents import a little under seventy percent of their oil. That worries a lot of people who don't want the country to be reliant on foreign companies. This energy problem is becoming just as big a boost to wind energy enterprises as environmental concerns. Natural gas plans are also being proposed, either instead of wind power, or alongside it.

In some areas in Texas, you can drive a hundred and fifty miles and see a wind turbine wherever you go. Some people think of these huge turbines as eyesores, while others see them as the means to free the US from foreign oil dependency. In Nolan County, Texas, for instance, there are five billion dollars worth of turbines - fifteen hundred individual wind generators. Right now, that area produces more wind power in a year than the entire state of California.

Other areas in the state of Texas are having similar wind booms. The Rolling Plains region has two thousand turbines in operation, and Midland and Odessa's Permian Basin region produces about six thousand megawatts of electricity from three thousand turbines. New towers in some areas are going up at the rate of three to four a day.

Wind makes an excellent substitute for natural gas in Texas electricity production, and is renewable, unlike fossil fuels. It also produces no pollution while generating that electricity, though the turbines themselves are still made by industrial processes. Oil barons and environmentalists alike are supporting these plans, in an attempt to reduce environmental damage from fossil fuel burning and decrease dependence on foreign oil. Add in solar energy, for when the wind's not blowing, and the nation's power requirements will be increased even more.
Is wind a viable alternative for all our energy needs? It depends on who you talk to. However, one thing is sure. Wind is booming all over the country, and producing a lot of energy. It's definitely worth a look!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Texas Electric Deregulation - A Road Map For America

It's a known fact that when electric companies (or any company, for that matter) get the chance to establish a monopoly such that consumers have no competition to choose from, the companies themselves hold all the cards and the unfortunate consumers are left to take what they can get, at whatever price the company deems necessary for profit. To that end, deregulation laws were introduced in Texas in 2002, such that now, most Texas citizens can choose their electric providers.

That means more competition, and THAT means that customers are once again in control. Deregulation means better customer service, better pricing, and a chance to use renewable energy sources instead of entrenched but "bad for the environment" and nonrenewable energy sources. It wasn't always that way; before deregulation took hold in Texas, a single utility would provide service to an entire area, including sales, transmission, and distribution. That meant consumers had no other options but to take what they got. Deregulation has changed that, such that now, one company can handle the transmission and distribution of electricity within a given area, but other companies take over billing and sales. For consumers, this gives choice, such that they can choose the providers they want to work with.

The Public Utility Commission oversees the entire process, to forestall any problems that may arise. Today, about 75% of the citizens in Texas have the ability to choose the power companies they want, and thus to control at least to some extent how much they pay, where they get their power from, and the level of service they receive. This benefits businesses as well as private consumers, and when businesses benefit, that business's customers benefit, too.Why? Because when businesses can choose their own electric service providers, they get lower utility costs and better service. In turn, they pass those savings and the benefits of that improved service on to customers.

At present, some 25% of Texas' electric consumers still do not have the ability to receive the benefits of competition. That includes those in large cities like Austin and San Antonio, and those that use electric cooperatives. Nonetheless, positive changes continue to be made in Texas when it comes to Texas electric utility providers. Renewable resources continue to be explored and implemented, with wind farms, as one example, springing up all over the state as a means to provide clean, completely renewable energy that can be converted into electricity.

If you live in Texas and you live in an area where you can choose your provider, the best way to make sure deregulation stays in place is to utilize its benefits. Shop around for the company that's going to suit you and your family best by going to You can actually compare prices in real time between companies, all on the same website. Once you've done your homework and have chosen an electric provider that meets your needs the best, and at the best possible prices, you simply place your order with the company; you should expect to receive information from them on your rights as a customer, and the terms of service agreement from your new provider as well. You don't have to contact your old provider to discontinue service, either. Your new provider will handle that, and you'll simply get a notice of service change in the mail. Actual change of service will happen at your next meter reading. It should be noted that your new company will not be assuming responsibility for sending you your final bills from the old company, so make sure you address those and get them taken care of. Other than that, though, the change is completely seamless and automatic. You simply use your power to choose your new provider, and the wheels are set in motion so that you can enjoy the benefits of going with an electric provider you've chosen.