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Wind may be blowing over there for a while

If you've been driving around the Permian Basin lately, you probably aren't as likely to have gotten stuck behind a truck pulling a giant wind turbine blade. While wind energy projects are still going on in other parts of West Texas, Gary Vest, economic development director for the Odessa Chamber of Commerce, said it would be a while before they start back up in the counties around Odessa. "It's kind of on hold," he said. "Any of them that are in progress already are still going, but they haven't been starting any new ones." Companies are waiting until construction on a $4.93 billion plan to connect transmission lines from West Texas to the state's population centers is closer to completion, Vest said. That isn't expected until 2013.

If you've been driving around the Permian Basin lately, you probably aren't as likely to have gotten stuck behind a truck pulling a giant wind turbine blade.

While wind energy projects are still going on in other parts of West Texas, Gary Vest, economic development director for the Odessa Chamber of Commerce, said it would be a while before they start back up in the counties around Odessa.

"It's kind of on hold," he said. "Any of them that are in progress already are still going, but they haven't been starting any new ones."

Companies are waiting until construction on a $4.93 billion plan to connect transmission lines from West Texas to the state's population centers is closer to completion, Vest said. That isn't expected until 2013.

"Probably toward the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013, we'll see that go into another boom," he said.

That means any more progress on the 95 wind turbines that recently went online at Duke Energy's Notrees Wind Farm, located on the Winkler-Ector county line, will have to wait.

Duke spokesman Greg Efthimiou said the company has achieved its goals at the wind farm, and he isn't aware of any plans to add more turbines.

But Vest said he understands the company will... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

If you've been driving around the Permian Basin lately, you probably aren't as likely to have gotten stuck behind a truck pulling a giant wind turbine blade.

While wind energy projects are still going on in other parts of West Texas, Gary Vest, economic development director for the Odessa Chamber of Commerce, said it would be a while before they start back up in the counties around Odessa.

"It's kind of on hold," he said. "Any of them that are in progress already are still going, but they haven't been starting any new ones."

Companies are waiting until construction on a $4.93 billion plan to connect transmission lines from West Texas to the state's population centers is closer to completion, Vest said. That isn't expected until 2013.

"Probably toward the end of 2012 or the beginning of 2013, we'll see that go into another boom," he said.

That means any more progress on the 95 wind turbines that recently went online at Duke Energy's Notrees Wind Farm, located on the Winkler-Ector county line, will have to wait.

Duke spokesman Greg Efthimiou said the company has achieved its goals at the wind farm, and he isn't aware of any plans to add more turbines.

But Vest said he understands the company will build more phases of the wind farm once transmission is increased. And while only 11 of the current turbines are in Ector County, that number will eventually increase.

In addition, Invenergy LLC still plans to build a wind farm in Ector County once more transmission lines are available, Vest said.

Though he wouldn't say if the company has more plans for West Texas, Efthimiou said Duke is currently looking at 14 "development" projects in several states including Texas.

He said transmission capacity always plays a role in the company's decisions on where to build.

"Any time transmission is increased, that brings new opportunities to evaluate bringing additionally renewable energy online," he said.

While Vest said there are no wind farms going up in his trade area, there is still movement elsewhere in West Texas.

Several wind farm projects in Texas received part of $550 million in renewable energy grants in lieu of tax credits from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act earlier this week. They include the Pyon Wind Farm in Roscoe, which got $122 million and Bull Creek Wind LLC in O'Donnell, recipient of $91 million.

That two of the three largest earners of stimulus money are West Texas wind farms should come as no surprise. Texas is not only the largest producer of wind power in the United States, but it also would be the fifth-largest wind power generator in the world if measured as a separate nation, said Sweetwater Mayor Greg Wortham, executive director of the Texas Wind Energy Clearinghouse.

"It's an incentive to get the projects built as soon as possible," he said.
Wortham said wind industry has created more than 1,000 jobs in Nolan County alone, which is one of the reasons the federal money is well spent.
"What did we spend on the auto industry, a few hundred billion?" he said. "This is cheap compared to what's going on."

Wortham said private industry is already near completion on transmission projects in parts of West Texas, ahead of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones designed to improve the Electric Reliability Council of Texas grid.

Contrary to reports, Wortham said wind energy is still going strong. But the recent stimulus grants were the first funding the industry has seen in the area from the Obama administration. He said some in West Texas who were happy to receive money from the Bush administration have changed their tune.

"Now that the other party wants to do it, the Republicans are against it," he said.

But State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, said that the wind energy industry has been hit hard by the recession.

On a visit to Odessa this week, Seliger said wind could only be relied upon as a "standby" power source.

"Right now, wind power is only being used when the wind is blowing," said Seliger, a member of the Senate's natural resources committee. "People need electricity all the time."

But Wortham said the industry would continue to grow for decades to come.
"Things haven't gone away," he said. "What people are perceiving has gone away. People are encouraged to be in a gloomy mood."


Source: http://www.oaoa.com/news/bl...

SEP 27 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/22387-wind-may-be-blowing-over-there-for-a-while
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