Five stories that have North Texas talking: Running on wind, boosting the nation's minimum wage, domestic partner benefits possible for DART employees and more.
Half of the nation's power last year came from wind, President Obama noted in his State of the Union address. Texas is a huge part of that. The state is one of the biggest wind energy producers in the world. But what has that meant for its own grid? Almost 26 percent of the state's energy came from wind power on November 10. That means about 4.5 million homes were running on electricity produced by wind that day.
According to ERCOT, there's more where that came from. With ideal conditions, the state could see a day in which 75 percent of its power comes from wind. StateImpact Texas looks at wind farms and the federal tax credit for wind energy development that is set to expire without a renewal from Congress.
- President Obama also called to boost the national minimum wage in attempt to strengthen the middle class. The AP's Jim Kuhnhenn calls this Obama's most confident pitch in the speech. Obama's proposal -- to up the current rate of $7.25 to $9 in the next two years -- reached for a labor sector that reportedly felt alienated by the president during his first term. UT economics professor Daniel S. Hamermesh told the writer he believes the wage boost would be a "job-killing bill," though it isn't too dangerous a proposition overall. [AP analysis, via NPR]
- A Dallas Area Rapid Transit administrative committee approved plans to provide health benefits for domestic partners. Gay and lesbian couples and their children would be eligible for the package if it's approved. The measure awaits a final from DART’s full board in March. [Dallas Morning News]
- Some 3, 143 guests stranded on a Carnival cruise ship off the coast of Mexico are set to dock in rescue tugboats tonight. A fire started in the engine room of The Triumph after departing from Galveston. After the boats dock in Progreso, Mexico, the travelers will all be flown home for their trouble. No one was hurt. [Bloomberg News]
- Downtown Austin's intricate development plan depends on one go-ahead from the city: Let developers build taller buildings. Seems simple, but this has been a battle. As residential growth pushes zoning limits, rules on floor area ratios and other limits make it tough to accomodate the 6,000 people who've moved downtown in the last ten years. The answer could be Austin's Bonus Denisty Plan. [The Atlantic Cities]