West Texas’ Wind Power Lines Help Power Oil Exploration in Permian Basin

High-voltage transmission lines intended to transmit power from West Texas’ wind farms to the major cities of the state are also being used to power the expansion of the oil production and exploration in the Permian Basin. This is as per report of the company supplying power to the region.

Because of the use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to release natural gas and oil, the power demand in the fertile Permian Basin – which extends from West Texas to New Mexico – is increasing by 5% to 6% annually. This is according to an official of Oncor, the company based in Dallas that operates a large portion of the Texas Permian. This is two times more than the electricity growth rate expected across the north Texas system being serviced by Oncor that includes Fort Worth and Dallas as per statement of Jim Greer, the chief operating officer of Oncor.

Besides having a sustained history of being one of the largest gas and producing regions in the country, there has been an up swell of wind generation in West Texas. This pushed the state in the No 1 position in wind capacity in the nation with its 10,570 megawatts capacity. Texas is also the principal power producer and user in America.

At first, the escalation of wind farm development caused congestion on the current power grid as electricity was incapable of moving to big cities such as San Antonio, Austin and Dallas. This was the reason why in 2008, state regulators approved plans to build thousands ofmiles of additional high-voltage power lines to support an additional 8,000 MW wind farm development and exploit more wind resources. The transmission constructed under the plan is called CREZ or Competitive Renewable Energy Zones and it will be operational by the end of 2013.

In 2012, congestion on the long-standing power grid of West Texas became critical as oil production swelled to more than 1.2 million barrels daily, which in turn created a surge in wholesale prices for power in the region.

At present, oil companies welcome the construction of new power lines to resolve the power delivery problem in the active oil patch. According to Greer, they’ve been able to use the transmission lines being constructed for wind, and Oncor is now able to support the high growth area.

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