A Louisiana company plans to install the first of 50 wind turbine platforms 10 miles off Galveston Island this week, moving the project closer to its goal of becoming the first U.S. offshore wind farm.
Galveston Offshore Wind, a division of Wind Energy Systems Technologies, plans to install a former oil production platform in about 50 feet of water in the coming days. At first weather-data-gathering instruments will sit on top of a tower some 300 feet above sea level, but by September the company hopes to have its first wind turbine in place.
The Texas attorney general is looking at tax breaks for wind farms, and early signs are he doesn't think the law allows them.
"Fixtures and improvements owned by the wind turbine company as personal property would not be 'real property' that may be the subject of a tax-abatement agreement," according to a legal opinion issued by Attorney General Greg Abbott on Jan. 29.
The wind industry wants a another chance.
"We have asked the attorney general to review it and take a second look," said Paul Sadler, executive director of The Wind Coalition. "If they will not, it may be necessary to tweak it in the next legislative session."
As she sat at a small sunlit table by her apartment window, near the wheelchair and oxygen tank in the corner, Leona Morgan ticked off her monthly spending list.
Rent: $550. Groceries: $300. Medicine for anemia, a heart condition and other ailments: $50 beyond what's covered by government health programs. Electric bill: $93.87 in August.
"My income just barely covers what I have to spend," said Morgan, a sprightly, bone-thin 86-year-old, contemplating the possibility of soaring electric bills.
AES Corp. has begun construction on one of the nation´s largest wind farms near Abilene, Texas.
Interest by California-based AES Wind Generation in establishing a large-scale wind energy operation in Gillespie County is being reconsidered, it was learned here Monday.
According to a City of Fredericksburg official who asked not to be identified, a letter from a company officer stated that AES SeaWest Inc. of San Diego has decided to discontinue pursuing wind energy in an area north of Fredericksburg that generally stretches between U.S. Highway 87 and RM 965.
Instead, the city official related, the company has decided to focus on other areas in Texas.
Prompting the decision, he added, was AES' concerns that sensitive species and bat colonies living in the area could be incompatible with large-scale wind energy.
Two companies that encountered political anger for their plans to use Chinese-built turbines on a wind farm in West Texas have announced plans to build a new turbine factory - in the United States.
The U.S. Renewable Energy Group, an investment firm, and A-Power Energy Generation Systems, a Chinese turbine maker, said in a statement on Tuesday that they had signed an agreement to build "a new production and assembly plant in the United States that will supply highly advanced wind energy turbines to renewable energy projects throughout North and South America."
Not everyone favors the wholesale conversion of wind energy into electricity. Controversies and obstacles surround the development of wind energy in Texas. This article examines a few of these issues.
Participants in Monday’s bus tour through this area’s wind farms laughed as Greg Wortham reminded them that “100 percent of zero is zero.”
Wortham, executive director of the West Texas Wind Energy Consortium, served as the group’s tour guide on the trip sponsored by the Floydada Economic Development Corporation.
That particular part of the tour conversation was directed at royalty negotiations, but Wortham took a similar stand when the focus turned to economic development.
As an example of the positive aspects of the wind energy industry on local economies, he talked about the Blackwell Consolidated Independent School District. Officials there had courted the wind industry and were reaping the benefits of that effort.
Other districts, Wortham said, refused to work with the developers and those developers moved to the next county.
Austin's electric utility could soon reverse a long-standing practice of selling wind, solar and other renewable energy only to customers who choose to buy it, four Austin City Council members and a mayoral aide said this week.
The council's ambitious goal of getting 30 percent of the city's electricity from renewable sources by 2020 could be in jeopardy if Austin Energy relies exclusively on its landmark GreenChoice program.
In a bid to block two large wind energy projects on the South Texas coast, an alliance of environmental groups and landowners is taking aim at the high-voltage transmission line required for the project.
The wind farms represent a $1 billion investment in a remote corner of the Kenedy Ranch.
It’s windy, man.
No, not that Windy Man, the disgraced concrete structure that state officials once planned to put around Lubbock highways.
Rather, it’s the non-stop howling variety that is, more and more, bringing money to the region. Investors see potential in what people here have known for a long time about the South Plains and Panhandle - it’s windy, man.
Some of the best wind in Texas hits ridge lines in the Davis Mountains and mesas in Taylor County near Abilene. That’s hundreds of miles of away. But there’s a small stretch of ideal wind pockets along the Caprock in Dickens, Floyd, Motley and Briscoe counties.
“We have a lot of developers call us up and say, ‘Where’s nobody looking?’” said David Carr, assistant director at the AEI. “I don’t think there’s going to be that magic spot, but if there is one … that’s a pretty hot spot.”
TXU, if its buyout agreement is approved, will double the amount of money it spends on wind power purchases.
The deal between the Texas utility giant and a group of investors led by Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts & Co. is the largest private investment merger in U.S. business history at $45 billion. The buyout comes to $32 after TXU’s $13 billion in debt is paid off.
Included in the group of investors are Texas Pacific Group, Goldman Sachs & Co., GS Capital Partners, Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley. Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers and Morgan Stanley are already investors in the wind market. Under the agreement, shareholders would receive $69.25 per share, 25 percent more than the closing price Friday when the deal was being finalized.
The waiting list for proposed wind energy projects in the state is 612 years. But changes are afoot.
To anyone who wants to join the wind energy movement, Ryan Wolf says: Get in line.
Wolf, of Le Sueur, Minn., has been waiting almost two years for the go-ahead to build 27 wind turbines in the southwest part of the state.
It's anyone's guess how much longer he'll be waiting, given a backlog of applications that technically could take more than 600 years to clear at the federal agency that stands between him and the renewable energy marketplace.
Young said firefighters faced hazardous conditions as the turbine began scattering debris on the ground.
"I would gather that the turbine was spraying out debris up to three football fields," Young said. "Especially in an area like that, it was challenging because of the rough terrain. By nature, those are not good conditions for a fire."
"We believe the current rush to wind energy development is bad public policy for Texas," said Josh Ladd, a member of the group's board of directors. "We hope to educate the public about the true costs of wind energy and bring regulation to an industry that has none in the state of Texas, as well as bring attention to the excessive tax incentives that the big oil and utility companies receive on a state and federal level."
Big Country landowners who lost a lawsuit last year against FPL Energy over the company's Horse Hollow wind farm plan to file an appeal soon.
In December, a jury ruled against about ten plaintiffs who said the wind farm created a public nuisance near their homes, siding instead with FPL Energy.
Patricia Lapoint, who lives near Tuscola, said an appeal is being drafted, and most of the original plaintiffs are participating.
It will likely be filed in the 11th Court of Appeals in Eastland.
A judge recently decided the plaintiffs do not have to pay FPL Energy's legal fees from the original lawsuit, which amount to $30,000 to $40,000.
Lapoint said the plaintiffs will have a better chance of winning the appeal because more information will be taken into consideration during the process.
"The scope of the district trial was very limited," Lapoint said.
Before the 2006 trial, the judge wouldn't let plaintiffs argue that the towering turbines were a nuisance based on their blinking lights or how they looked. After the two-week trial in which noise levels and land values were discussed, jurors ruled in favor of FPL Energy. In a ruling issued Thursday, the 11th Court of Appeals said the trial judge did not err because Texas law "does not provide a nuisance action for aesthetical impact." But the appeals court seemed sympathetic to landowners.
An elemental force that can cause aggravation and destruction has long been a feature of the Texas Panhandle, but its potential as an energy resource has only recently been recognized.
Wind is joining oil and gas as a marketable power source. For almost two years, Texas has been the top wind producer in the United States, according to the Texas State Energy Conservation Office.
New and existing companies have begun to harness the wind's power to generate electricity by signing agreements with landowners and constructing wind farms, including several in the Panhandle.
The first public meeting on the project is planned for March 28 in Brownsville. The Corps is accepting public comments that will help define the scope of its environmental study, which is expected to be complete by the end of 2014.
Environmental groups are tracking the project and have raised concerns about the turbines' effects on birds and sea life.
The movement toward investing in green energy sources has been picking up steam, helped by a big push from the White House to "make America energy-independent." But the movement also has brought out scam artists attempting to ride on its popularity and rip off unsuspecting investors.Not every alternative-energy investment is a rip-off, of course, but investors have to be able to tell the difference.