Avangrid Spins Profit From Wind Farms During Texas Freeze

The extreme Texas freeze last month was a big money-maker for power provider Avangrid Inc., which owns wind farms on the Gulf Coast.

While turbines froze in much of the state, Avangrid’s blades in the south managed to spin. In fact, they produced more power than normal, generating tens of millions of dollars for the company, said Jose Ignacio Sanchez Galan, CEO of Avangrid’s majority owner, Spanish utility Iberdrola SA. He didn’t specify a precise total.

“We got good money from this,” Galan said in an interview.

The disclosure is the latest detail to surface in the slowly emerging picture of financial winners and losers from the crisis that left millions of people without power for days. While some plants froze and racked up huge bills buying power on the spot market to meet their contractual obligations, many that kept running generated big returns as prices jumped to record levels.

Avangrid last month said its operations were impacted for a short period, but that it met all firm delivery obligations -- and delivered excess energy to the grid.

To Galan, the Texas outages underscore a barrier to the expansion of renewable-energy capacity: a shortage of interconnection between electric grids.

Reimagined electric grids could help the U.S. avoid a repeat of what happened in Texas -- and support new wind and solar power needed to help achieve President Joe Biden’s goal of sourcing all electricity from carbon-free sources by 2035.

Galan said he plans to press the issue of electricity transmission in a meeting with the new U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. More transmission lines are necessary to link the renewable power resources of various states, he will tell her. The federal government should play a greater role to enable this connection, he said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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