The planned completion this year of $6.8 billion in "competitive renewable energy zone" transmission lines in Texas is leading wind-power developers to shift wind-project planning into high gear.

Kent Saathoff, executive advisor to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, says the build-out of some 2,300 miles of 345-kV CREZ lines will roughly double to approximately 18,000 MW—the amount of wind and other power that can be delivered from remote, sparsely populated areas in West Texas and the Texas Panhandle to population centers like Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston.

Saathoff says that with the first CREZ lines already being energized, and with Congress's recent extension of the federal production tax credit for wind power through the end of 2013, "we're seeing more wind projects" under active development. Some 21,000 MW of wind capacity is currently being planned in Texas, he says.

Among the wind developers planning to construct projects that will tie into new CREZ lines are Havgul Clean Energy, which is planning 600 MW of wind turbines in Parmer County; RES-Americas Development, a unit of RES-Americas, with up to 361 MW in Briscoe County; and Tri Global Energy, with 1,300 MW in Hale County.

Tri Global Energy Senior Vice President Curtis King says that about half of his company's planned wind power will be delivered via new CREZ lines; the rest will be delivered via a planned non-CREZ line from the Texas Panhandle to Woodward, Okla.

Texas already generates more power from wind than any other state. According to a report issued by the American Wind Energy Association in early April, 1,826 MW of wind capacity came online in 2012, bringing the state's total, as of last December 31, to 12,214 MW.