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Fate of the Texas Power Grid Depends on Daily Whims of the Wind

Wind energy is crucial in whether the Lone Star State’s stressed grid can avoid blackouts during blistering heatwaves.

Wind turbines in Taft, Texas.

Wind turbines in Taft, Texas.

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America
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The ability of Texas—America’s oil and natural gas hub—to avoid blackouts during this summer’s punishing heatwaves is hinging largely on a different source of energy: wind power.

On breezy days, Texas has plenty of electricity to spare—even as demand surges to unprecedented levels. On Wednesday, for instance, power use skyrocketed to a record 79.8 gigawatts. But officials didn’t even ask for conservation, thanks to vast wind farms in the Texas Panhandle and along the Gulf Coast that at time can supply about half of the grid’s needs.