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Fortunes could be blowing in the wind with energy venture

DOUGHERTY - Landowners symbolically began construction Wednesday on a $100 million wind farm in Floyd County. As they stuck silver shovels into the soil, it became clear that perhaps gold-plated shovels would have been more appropriate as the venture holds a huge potential economic impact. Renewable Energy Systems, an international wind development company with offices in Austin, is launching the endeavor with 26 turbines in the works, reaching across 8,320 acres.

DOUGHERTY - Landowners symbolically began construction Wednesday on a $100 million wind farm in Floyd County.
As they stuck silver shovels into the soil, it became clear that perhaps gold-plated shovels would have been more appropriate as the venture holds a huge potential economic impact.

Renewable Energy Systems, an international wind development company with offices in Austin, is launching the endeavor with 26 turbines in the works, reaching across 8,320 acres.

RES Americas President Craig Mataczynski said broad economic impact will be seen from its investment, starting with employment.
The facility will create six to 10 permanent jobs when it is in full swing, but peak employment will reach 150. As many of those jobs as possible will come from local workers.

"There's no sense pulling in people from Houston and Dallas when you have qualified people locally who can do the work," Mataczynski said.

Already, Dora Ross, Floydada Economic Development executive director, is looking for 90 hotel rooms to house workers for up to four months.

"I'm working on it," she deadpanned jokingly.

Floydada's population reaches just above 3,000, and the influx of workers will come from across the... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

DOUGHERTY - Landowners symbolically began construction Wednesday on a $100 million wind farm in Floyd County.
As they stuck silver shovels into the soil, it became clear that perhaps gold-plated shovels would have been more appropriate as the venture holds a huge potential economic impact.

Renewable Energy Systems, an international wind development company with offices in Austin, is launching the endeavor with 26 turbines in the works, reaching across 8,320 acres.

RES Americas President Craig Mataczynski said broad economic impact will be seen from its investment, starting with employment.
The facility will create six to 10 permanent jobs when it is in full swing, but peak employment will reach 150. As many of those jobs as possible will come from local workers.

"There's no sense pulling in people from Houston and Dallas when you have qualified people locally who can do the work," Mataczynski said.

Already, Dora Ross, Floydada Economic Development executive director, is looking for 90 hotel rooms to house workers for up to four months.

"I'm working on it," she deadpanned jokingly.

Floydada's population reaches just above 3,000, and the influx of workers will come from across the region, officials said.

"I don't know how far we're going to have to go for that," Mataczynski said.

While employment gets a boost here, so too will other areas of the local economy with additional tax revenue.

Mataczynski estimated property tax payments of $20 million over the life of the project, with about half of that going to the school district.

As the current project gets under way, RES is even looking at expanding onto adjacent acreage because of quality wind conditions.

Not only does the wind in the area bode well for wind energy, it is close enough to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas power grid. Expensive transmission lines can be built to the ERCOT grid at the lowest cost possible from the area.

Wind energy project developments have been stunted in large areas of West Texas - mainly the South Plains and Panhandle - due to the grid structure. The South Plains is served by the Southwest Power Pool, which sells electricity at a lower price compared to ERCOT.

Floyd County, however, is much closer to the ERCOT grid, which makes wind power development possible - RES is developing a 17-mile transmission line to connect to ERCOT. Without that proximity, the development in Floyd County would have been delayed, Mataczynski said.

"If you couldn't get into the ERCOT grid, it would be two years or so before that site would be built," he said.

Future development of additional transmission lines could mean long-term income for landowners like the ones who broke ground Wednesday.

Ron Davenport's "couple-thousand" acres were brought into the project three years ago, he said.

The land, which has been in his wife's family since the 1950s, is all ranch property.

"The biggest thing is what it's going to do for the community as far as school and the taxes and all of that," he said.

Davenport will be one of a handful of landowners who will receive royalty payments from RES.

Norman Muncy, who farmed and ranched the land where RES will now establish turbines, bought his land for farming and ranching in 1987.

"I hadn't even heard of a wind turbine in 1987," he said.

Chances are that landowners and workers in Floyd County will certainly hear more about wind turbines in the near future.

Other wind development projects are moving at full steam as demand for electricity from wind power increases.

 



Source: http://www.lubbockonline.co...

MAY 3 2007
http://www.windaction.org/posts/8639-fortunes-could-be-blowing-in-the-wind-with-energy-venture
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