Articles filed under General from Texas
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.
More than 50 people met with representatives of Mesa Power Pampa LP Tuesday in the Elliott Community Center. Landowners from Oklaunion, Harold, Punkin Center and Elliott heard the company is interested in possibly leasing land in the area for a wind farm. ...Mesa Power plans to install two or three 200-foot wind towers in the near future to collect meteorological information for the project. The company is shooting for a 400-500 megawatt project that would require some 30,000 to 40,000 acres of land. This would provide room for 200 to 267 wind turbines.
Coastal Habitat Alliance, made up of several environmental groups, the King Ranch and others, had previously filed suit unsuccessfully against the Public Utility Commission and the Texas General Land Office in an effort to halt the projects. The federal complaint, filed last month against the state, is another attempt by the group to halt the projects. The group's complaint alleges that the state failed to comply with the terms of the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act by deregulating coastal electric generating facilities.
Florida Power & Light Company, a subsidiary of FPL Group, pulled the plug on a 35,000-acre Wilbarger County wind power project this week. The company packed up the $400 million project in light of recent commotion in financial markets and transmission restraints in the area. Nationwide financial turmoil has caused FPL markets to flip and flop, too. "It is certainly our intention to build this project at some point in the future, but that will hinge on several things. Our markets have really changed in the last six months or so," said Steve Stengel, FPL spokesman. "I can't give you a time frame on when that would occur."
Farm Service Agency is accepting emergency farm loan applications for losses caused by drought and high winds since Jan. 1 at the Wharton office 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Calhoun, Jackson, Victoria and Wharton counties are four of the 75 in Texas recently named by Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schafer eligible for loans to cover part of actual production losses.
After completion, Roscoe's wind farm will have an estimated 627 wind turbines and a total capacity of 781.5 MW, or enough electricity to power over 260,000 homes. But despite possible future setbacks for the wind energy industry, including a production tax credit set to expire on Dec. 31, Patrick Woodson, Chief Development Officer for the U.S. operations of E.ON, doesn't see anything standing in the way of E.ON's Roscoe wind farm.
Billionaire alternative power proponent T. Boone Pickens abandoned a partnership between projects piping water and power from West Texas to focus on delivering electricity from a gigantic wind farm under development. Pickens had proposed a 250-mile transmission line and pipeline route joining resources in the Panhandle to customers in North Texas. ..."The freshwater supply district is out of the picture now," project spokesman Steve Zarangue said. "Mesa Power and the freshwater supply district are no longer in play, as far as what's being done now."
Blue H's 328-foot-tall wind turbine is different from the offshore generators that have sparked opposition from U.S. coastal residents. Because it sits atop pontoons, this turbine can operate in water farther from shore, where winds are stronger and more reliable - and where it's not visible from land. ...Linowes said that those opposing onshore wind projects - which often are gigantic schemes spanning tens of thousands of acres - welcome proposals to place turbines out in the water. She calls current onshore turbines "dinosaurs" and says she finds Blue H's idea appealing because it shows "that we should look to new technology rather than bigger land-based turbines," she said.
More than 200 landowners attended a meeting in Harper on Thursday to discuss proposed transmission lines that could affect Kerr, Gillespie, Kendall and other area counties. These counties may soon play a part in transmitting wind energy from West Texas and the Panhandle to other parts of the state. The Lower Colorado River Authority, the primary supplier of electricity for Kerr County residents, is among a group of Texas transmission providers that filed a proposal last Friday with the Public Utility Commission of Texas to construct the line.
Billionaire and wind energy advocate T. Boone Pickens has suspended indefinitely plans for a water pipeline project aimed at shipping water from the sole aquifer in the Texas Panhandle to thirsty cities downstate. Pickens is continuing to pursue rights of way for electric transmission lines to carry power generated by a planned wind farm billed as the world's largest. ...Rosser said that though the pipeline is on hold, discussions with potential buyers of the water from the Ogallala Aquifer continue.
Wind power and other renewables have their place in the energy mix. But since the federal subsidies for wind farms are so large, it's unclear Texas needs to provide additional incentives. These funds could be better used to raise teacher salaries and otherwise upgrade the quality of public education across the state. Removing or reducing the state incentives for wind generators will not by itself solve the education crisis in Texas, but it would be a step in the right direction.
For all the negotiations and secrecy involved over the past year in bringing Martifer Energy Systems to San Angelo, a key component remains unresolved. The company can begin building wind-turbine towers as soon as its construction plant is complete, but it won't be able to send them anywhere until a narrow Ballinger railroad bridge is replaced. "If we don't have the bridge, we can't ship through rail," said Martifer financial controller Silvio Teixeira.
Two wind farm projects in Kenedy County aren't far enough along to demonstrate how their giant fan blades would fare in a hurricane such as Ike. But if they were operating, those traveling nearby on U.S. Highway 77 would have nothing to fear from them, says a spokeswoman with one of the companies spearheading the projects. Mitsubishi Power Systems, the turbine manufacturer, has designed the turbines to withstand hurricane conditions, said Beth O'Brien, a spokeswoman with Australia-based Babcock and Brown Ltd., the developer of one of the wind farms. ...four of its 118 turbines had been erected. If there is a strong wind, the nacelle rotates to face downwind, alleviating the load, O'Brien said.
The Martifer Group, a Portugal-based global construction company, will build a $40 million wind-turbine tower manufacturing plant here, Gov. Rick Perry announced Monday. ...Attracting Martifer comes at a significant price -- more than $8 million in city, county and state incentives and abatements, with potentially $15 million more in rail improvements still to be negotiated between the state and the Texas Pacifico Railroad.
Many property owners were outraged earlier in the summer when letters from Mesa suggested T. Boone Pickens' company might use the power of eminent domain to seize land for placement of water and power lines. But the language at the Thursday meeting was more palatable to most. The project originally called for building above-ground electricity lines and underground water lines from Roberts County in the Panhandle to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. But landowners affected by Mesa's plan recently received a second letter advising them the water project had been suspended for the time being.
T. Boone Pickens' joint right-of-way project has been suspended. Land owners from Roberts County all the way to Jacksboro County, near Dallas, may be getting a new letter from T. Boone Pickens company Mesa Power about acquiring their land. Pickens was proposing to build his own right-of-way that would have included an underground pipeline and an above ground power line. Now his companies have decided to split.
A few months ago, the Dallas area experienced rolling brownouts when a front moved through and the wind died unexpectedly, causing a large amount of wind-generated power to die out. Power plants had to scramble to get their gas- and coal-fired generators up to speed to offset the lost power when the wind generators dropped off. That's a problem because generating stations and their equipment do not take drastic changes in load easily, especially the big coal-fired plants. Equipment has to warm up, and keeping them "on standby" requires energy, in addition to "wear and tear."
Dale Rankin, one of the landowners who claimed FPL Energy created a nuisance by erecting ugly and noisy wind turbines at the company's Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, said the group's attorneys have decided an appeal is in order. Rankin said that in his group's opinion, the appeals court erred. "Politics and the judicial world are not supposed to mix, and they obviously do," Rankin said, adding that there's "too much political pressure" on the appeals court to maintain the status quo and not get in the way of the wind turbine industry.
Patricia LaPoint said she wasn't surprised Thursday when an appeals court sided with the wind industry and upheld a lower court ruling that people can't sue simply because they hate the way wind turbines look or sound. "It's not surprising given the politics of wind energy in the state of Texas," said LaPoint, one of a group of rural Taylor County landowners who sued and claimed FPL Energy created a public nuisance by erecting unpleasant-looking and noisy wind turbines at the company's Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center. LaPoint's group claimed noisy turbines lowered their property values and stamped out their picturesque views.
Young County commissioners will likely seek a 60-40 split on tax proceeds if they approve an abatement request from British Petroleum for a windmill energy farm in northern Young County. While meeting with attorney Alan Carmichael on Monday, commissioners discussed a way to get the most money for the county without derailing the proposed wind farm. Under the proposal from BP, the county would abate 75 percent of the taxes the first two years and see the figures drop through the 10-year abatement. ..."I want it to be competitive, but keep in mind this is British Petroleum, one of the 25 largest companies in the world, and they don't need a heck of a lot of help from us," Carmichael said. "But we do want this project to be completed."