Free energy comes to Texas for a day, thanks to wind powerNovember 15, 2011
A energy phenomenon took place in Texas last month. At several points throughout one day in October, wholesale electricity was free.
The event was not planned in any way and was not part of any public-relations ploy on behalf of wholesalers; it was all due to wind energy. Texas is home to one of the most expansive wind farms in the U.S. Usually, the state’s supply of electricity derived from wind is consumed rapidly, leading utilities companies to purchase power from competing power plants. However, strong winds sent energy generation through the roof, and, for a short time at least, electricity cost nothing.
According to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, energy consumption and demand for the state dropped somewhat, which contributed to the free energy event. Demand was particularly low during this time, which saw many power plants shutting off during the night to conserve fuel.
Other plants, such as nuclear and coal plants, do not typically shut down due to the problems that can occur, so they continued running at reduced output.
These plants entered bids into the wholesale markets that were excessively low, with many coming in at $0. This meant that most of the energy consumed throughout that Friday was free.
Wind energy contributed to the event because it was able to single-handedly meet the electricity demands. The government is praising wind for its low cost and its contribution to free energy.