The cost of wind energy from West Texas has risen so much that city residents don’t want to buy it, at least in very liberal Austin. The city sells renewable power to residents who want it — electricity from wind farms and, in a future, a solar array. The program has worked so far, but the price of the latest batch of wind power has ended up costing three times what the city charges for conventionally generated electricity. So nobody’s buying. Wind power has risen because steel, concrete and labor all cost more, according to the city. And, it costs more to transport power across crowded transmission lines.
The price of transporting power will continue to rise. The state of Texas is close to approving plans for $6 billion in new transmission lines — lines that will cross farms and ranches for thousands of miles.
New transmission lines are going up everywhere, and everywhere there are fights between landowners and power supply companies. One of the latest is in Wisconsin. “I think wherever the lines are going to go, there’s going to be opposition,” said Jim Danky, director of the citizens group Preserve Our Rural Landscape Ltd., which fought American Transmission Co. LLC’s recently approved transmission line from Rockdale to West Middleton. “What you’re really going to begin to see is a rural and urban split on energy….Green energy is a great idea, but rural residents want to know who’s going to be paying the daily price for it.” Good question….