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Texas OKs Big-Bucks Wind Power Project
CNBC.com | July 17, 2008 | 08:13 AM EDT

Texas extended its already formidable national lead in wind power by clearing the way Thursday for a major expansion of the state's electrical power transmission network, valued at nearly $5 billion, a move that will triple its current wind power capacity.

The preliminary approval from the Public Utility Commission of Teaxs (PUCT) effectively green-lights tens of billions of dollars more in wind development investment and will supply the state with more than 18,000 megawatts of additional wind power.

The decision consolidates Texas as "the epicenter of land-based wind energy development in North America, if not the world," said Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman in a statement.

Texas’ basic challenge – bringing power from where the wind blows hardest to where the electricity it generates is most needed - is the same faced by the rest of the country, and the Lone Star state's aggressive embrace of wind has made it a national model.

“Transmission is the single largest strategic constraint for wind …but Texas has probably the most innovative policy for getting transmission built; it is increasingly a model,” says Randall Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Association.

Texas currently has 5,249 megawatts (MW) of wind power - almost a third of the national total - supplying four percent of the state’s total electricity demand.

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