A Louisiana company was awarded leases to four tracts Tuesday in Texas' first open bidding for offshore wind power in the Gulf of Mexico.
Wind Energy Systems Technology, already developing a wind farm eight miles off of Galveston, was the only bidder for the tracts. ...Though it's not clear why more companies didn't bid on the offshore tracts, it may be that many are busy with wind power projects on land in Texas, said Christine Real de Azua, spokeswoman for the American Wind Energy Association.
Lack of action on a tax abatement for a company looking to build a series of wind generators in western Cooke and eastern Montague counties could send the alternative energy project to other counties, a spokesman said Monday.
The Cooke County Commissioners Court took no action in its Monday meeting to give or deny Florida Power and Light a tax abatement for a series of gargantuan wind-powered electric generators on about 10,000 acres in western Cooke County. ...“The lack of action will probably kill this deal, and we’ll now have to reconsider our investment in Cooke County,” Edwin Giraldo, project manager for Florida Power and Light, said in an interview following the meeting. ...“The bottom line is that there is opposition to the windfarm, regardless of the benefits it would provide,” he said.
Driving through western Kansas, you'll see hundreds of whirling wind turbines. But you won't see lots of people - or high-voltage power lines.
And that is the big obstacle to realizing the wind-energy potential of Kansas and the Midwest: You can put up all the towers and turbines you like, but without more transmission lines, the added electricity won't get to the cities that could use it.
Those lines will take years to build and cost tens of billions of dollars - if they are built at all.
Spencer Jones normally spends his day behind a desk in Garland. This weekend he's visiting Fredericksburg and the hill country.
"One of the things I wanted to do was see this place," he said.
He's referring to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area.The giant granite dome attracts a quarter of a million visitors a year, many hike the trail to the summit. ...Robert Weatherford is the president of Save Our Scenic Hill Country, a group of land owners working to keep wind farms out of the area.
"You will literally be able to see them for miles. So we do think that it would destroy the scenic beauty of the Texas hill country," Weatherford said.
County leaders are working with state legislators to change the way wind farms are regulated in Texas.
Robert Weatherford is the president of Save Our Scenic Hill Country, a group of land owners working to keep wind farms out of the area.
"You will literally be able to see them for miles. So we do think that it would destroy the scenic beauty of the Texas hill country," Weatherford said. ...Gillespie County is worried that would mean less visitors like Jones.
"That's why people come to these places, is to see the view," Jones said.
Billionaire T. Boone Pickens may face a tough crowd this week in North Texas.
Officials with Pickens' company Mesa Power will be in two local cities to hold informational sessions about the company's plans to build a water pipeline and electricity transmission lines from the Panhandle to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, cutting through several area counties. ...Beesinger said property owners seem to be most concerned with the way the project was designed without their knowledge or input.
"(Pickens) didn't say, ‘Let's go explore the issue with these people first,' " Beesinger said. "When you start throwing out those words (eminent domain), people are going to stand up and say, ‘Hey! Whoa! Wait a minute!' That's the way we as Texans and Americans are. We like to protect what's ours." ...many people will view the open houses as a too little, too late approach.
"I think the biggest thing (Mesa) has to overcome is the private landowners saying, ‘You didn't even come and talk to me,' " Beesinger said. "(The company is saying), ‘Now, you can attend this meeting if you want to, but we're going to do the project anyway.' "
More than 20 landowners had filed as intervenors in the process, which produced a route that ultimately was more palatable to them than both the original proposal and an alternate route. ...
About 40 minutes after the start of a public meeting Tuesday on proposed routes for wind energy power lines, about 50 people still stood outside the Region 16 Service Center, waiting to get in line with more than 100 people inside.
Sharyland Utilities, which will build the 250- to 300-mile transmission line, and several consulting companies had representatives there to talk to landowners and others.
About 150 landowners and concerned residents met in Harper Thursday to discuss possible construction of a private electric transmission line through Gillespie County.
"We basically wanted to get together and pool our information," Martha Stevens, who helped organize the meeting, said. "We live in an awfully pretty part of Texas, and there are important questions we need to ask."
Landowners are concerned, Ms. Stevens said, that construction of power lines will diminish property values and harm the Hill Country's appeal to tourists.
More than 100 citizens voted to oppose power line construction in northwest Gillespie County during a public meeting attended by more than 200 people Thursday evening in Harper.
The meeting was the second held there in four weeks after more than 150 residents met Aug. 21 to learn more about plans by Midland-based Hilliard Energy to lease land for possible construction of a private transmission line in that part of the county.
"I think there's a lot of pressure coming from Hilliard Energy," said Martha Stevens who is on a citizens committee which opposes construction. "They're not going to lease this land if they're not going to use it, I wouldn't think."
Nearly all of the some 175 landowners raised their hands during a meeting here Friday when a West Texas lawmaker asked how many wanted legislators to oppose billionaire T. Boone Pickens' efforts to obtain rights of way for water pipeline and electricity transmission lines.
One landowner shouted "Do it," during the show of hands urging lawmakers fight Pickens' attempts to obtain rights of way to build the world's largest wind farm and to ship water from the Panhandle to thirsty areas downstate.
No one - not even Pickens' representatives - raised their hands when state Sen. Bob Duncan asked who wanted lawmakers to support the projects.
Several landowners south of Junction have said they've been forgotten and abused in the transmission line routing that the Public Utility Commission approved on Jan. 20.
The path of the transmission lines, being built by the Lower Colorado River Authority to carry wind-generated electricity from West Texas to the I-35 corridor, puts them through part of the townsite and through the land of Dean Martin, among others.
John Hearn hopes someday to sell some of his 650 acres bordering the King Ranch for development. Maybe not in his lifetime, but probably in his children's.
But Hearn worries of another kind of development, one that he fears will devalue his property: a large wind farm in the Chapman Ranch area.
Local farmers have told him that a company has been signing leases. But it has been difficult to determine what, if anything, will be built.
Despite long-standing interest in the environmental impacts of such large-scale alternative energy installations, this is the first time anyone has measured how wind turbines can alter local temperatures over the long term, the scientists said. So far, the scientists don't know if these higher temperatures affect local rainfall or other weather patterns.
Officials at Naval Air Station Kingsville have led the charge for new notice requirements, saying wind farms, which look like storms or aircraft on radars, could hamper the base's mission to train jet pilots. The wind industry opposes new requirements.
General Electric has sued Mitsubishi Heavy Industry in federal court over three wind energy patents. Two South Texas wind projects use Mitsubishi turbines.
GE says Mitsubishi used protected technology that allows a wind turbine to provide a constant, steady stream of electricity to the electrical grid when wind speed changes.
Wind farm developers want to put up $25.8 million to prove they really want to start building in the Panhandle, but it's not that easy.
The Public Utility Commission of Texas couldn't take the vote Thursday that would have started the clock for getting Panhandle wind farms plugged into the state's grid. The holdup is a lawsuit that forced the PUC to put the brakes on the schedule to begin transmission construction.
Twenty-five landowners and two service companies were dismissed Tuesday as defendants in a lawsuit brought by 11 rural Taylor County landowners who objected to the construction of the Horse Hollow wind farm.
The dismissal left FPL Energy, an affiliate of Florida Power & Light, as the sole defendant in the case. The dismissal came at the plaintiffs’ request as a jury was picked to start hearing the case. Lawyers expect the trial to last two weeks in 42nd District Court.
Steve Thompson, attorney for a group of rural Taylor County landowners who on Tuesday lost their lawsuit against the Horse Hollow wind farm, said Wednesday that he’s uncertain what avenue to take on appealing the case.
His clients have 30 days from when the verdict was reached to file an appeal, unless they file a motion for a new trial, a move that would extend the deadline to 90 days. The appeal would be heard by the 11th Court of Appeals in Eastland.
A 42nd District Court jury on Tuesday declined to find FPL Energy, owner of the Horse Hollow project, liable for creating a nuisance for 11 neighboring properties.
Motions for new trials are usually denied, Thompson said.
The Houston attorney said that it was too soon after the trial ended to decide which route to take.
The rush of wind turbines is still a few years away, but questions about the best way to make them pay are here today.
The uncertainty already has sparked a growing niche practice for law firms.
Local attorneys primarily represent landowners who want to know the contracts they are signing with wind energy developers are fair. Not all the questions are easy to answer.