July 14, 2008
Texas lawmakers say wind energy is the ticket to the state’s economic future. But how much will wind power add to your electric bill?
“We could position ourselves in Texas to be the world leader in wind and renewable energy in the next hundred years,” said State Rep. Mark Strama, (D) Austin.
This week state regulators will decide whether to build more transmission lines to move wind power from West Texas to major cities like Austin.
“We now need to get it to those places where it’s used the most, and that is why those transmission lines are so important,” said State Sen. Kirk Watson, (D) Austin.
But building those lines can cost anywhere between $3 billion to $6.5 billion. The cost to each consumer — $3 to $4 more per month on your electricity bills.
Some lawmakers say you’ll save money. Wind — a renewable energy — will compete with other sources and could drive down prices.
“Three dollars more on your transmission charge equals about a $10 savings on the fuel part of your bill,” Strama said.
It’s not just democratic lawmakers pushing for more wind. Republican supporters of the same transmission lines held a nearly identical press conference just on the other side of the Capitol.
Representative Phil King, (R) Weatherford, says he cannot predict savings.
“We want to take advantage of this great natural resource god has given us, and we want to expand this wind business,” he said. “I don’t know that you’ll feel a drop in prices because I don’t know what the market will look like five to 10 years from now.”
But both the Republicans and Democrats agree on the overall benefits of wind.
Building out the new transmission lines is expected to take between five to 10 years.