Wind industry likely to be unaffected by Harvey

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By Kenneth Carter

Hurricane Harvey may have been downgraded to a tropical storm, but it still is pummeling Texas’ Gulf Coast and dumping an unprecedented amount of rain on Houston and other cities in its path.

As of Sunday, about 22 percent of the U.S.’s oil production had been “shut in,” according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

In addition to oil production, Texas produces more than 21,000 MW of electricity a year from wind. Could Harvey have an impact on the wind industry?

If there is any good news coming from the storm, it’s that Harvey shouldn’t have much or any effect on the more than 40 wind projects that call Texas home, according to Edward Einowski, who is a partner at Stoel Rives LLP where he specializes in renewable energy project finance and development.

Einowski represents developers (including biomass, wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal), primary investors, tax-equity investors, biofuel producers, investment-banking firms, commercial banks, and other financial institutions. He has published articles on renewable energy and is a prominent speaker at renewable energy conferences in the U.S. and internationally.

“I’m not sure Harvey will have much of a direct impact on Texas’ wind-energy generation, as relatively few wind projects are located in the southern part of the state,” he said. “Most are in the central part near the panhandle where the wind regime is excellent.”

However, he did warn that since the wind that generates power is never constant, that it could have some impact on restoring electrical power.

“The intermittency of wind may provide some challenges in restoring service to those areas that got knocked out by Harvey,” Einowski said. “But other than the scale of the outages (which may end up being quite large), I am not sure there is much unusual in that regard.”

At one point over the weekend, more than 213,000 people along the Texas Gulf Coast were without power, according to Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

About The Author
Kenneth Carter 

is the editor of Wind Systems magazine. He can be reached at editor@windsystemsmag.com or (800) 366-2185, ext. 204.