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In a state as big as Texas, a one-size-fits-all approach usually won’t work. That’s why Texas produces electricity from a wide variety of sources – natural gas, coal, nuclear, wind, and increasingly, solar. Thanks to this distribution mix, Texas has some of the cheapest electricity in the US, at an average of 8.7 cents/kWh [Source]. All of this is the result of the free market and deregulation opening up the floodgates for investment into clean, cheap energy.
For the first quarter of 2017, natural gas and coal provided Texas with about 30% of its electricity needs each. In recent years, cheap natural gas fueled by a rise in hydraulic fracturing has caused an uptick in natural gas usage. At natural gas’ expense is coal, whose share of electricity generation has declined from one-third to roughly one-fourth of generation. This trend is only accelerating, as older coal-fired power plants close down and new plants are increasingly built using natural-gas technologies. Two nuclear plants supply about one-tenth of the electricity for the state.
Thanks to favorable conditions, renewables have also seen favorable adoption rates in Texas – especially wind power. Over 18,000 MW of wind capacity exists in the state, which covered 15% of all electricity usage in 2016. Another 5,000 MW are under construction. That share is only set to increase as investment pours into wind power, which Bloomberg and Scientific American have covered. In 2005, Texas’ Public Utilities Commission set goals for renewable electricity generation. Thanks to wind, the 2025 goal was achieved in 2009.
Despite Texas’ open skies and ideal location, solar power hasn’t yet had the same impact on electricity generation as wind. Only 1227 MW of solar capacity was active in 2016, with much of that figure coming from distributed (i.e. rooftop) solar systems. Other sources of electricity, such as biomass and hydroelectric, are fairly negligible and account for less than 1% of generation. You can read the EIA’s Energy Profile for Texas here, which covers other non-electricity topics also.