Articles filed under General from Texas
Nearly all of 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. The lines would also pass through parts of Archer, Hardeman, Jack, Wichita and Wilbarger counties. A similar meeting has been scheduled Thursday in Holliday. 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.
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.
Mesa Power, controlled by billionaire investor Boone Pickens, ordered 667 wind turbines from General Electric Co. to begin a $10 billion wind-farm project in Texas that will be the nation's largest. Delivery of the equipment will begin in mid-2010, Dallas-based Mesa said today in a statement. When completed in 2014, the Pampa Wind Project in northern Texas will be capable of producing 4,000 megawatts, the company said. That's enough power for about 1.2 million average U.S. homes. Abundant wind, open land, federal tax credits and rising electricity prices have made Texas the largest U.S. producer of electricity from wind.
Plans for a $3.5 billion water and power transmission project stretching from Roberts County to just west of Fort Worth worry him. The project, proposed by a wind energy company and an unusual water district dominated by the company's owner, T. Boone Pickens, plans to bring billions of gallons of Ogallala water to thirsty North Texas residents and enough clean, renewable wind energy to power up to 1.2 million homes. But state legislators and rural landowners like Horton are balking at a project that exports water from a waning aquifer and an arrangement that seems to give a private project the public's power to take land. "It just offends me that a farce would allow eminent domain to apply," Horton said.
The price tag to build new power lines to bring wind power to Texas' biggest cities could range from $3 billion to $9 billion, according to a report filed by the grid operator with state regulators. Following legislation passed in 2005, the Texas Public Utility Commission began working to speed up construction of high- voltage transmission lines to handle a ramp-up of renewable power. ...After identifying the areas with the best potential for new wind generation, the commission ordered the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to design routes to move 5,100 MW to 17,500 MW to the state's big cities.
As wind power becomes more common, its unpredictability becomes more of a problem. Sudden drops in wind speed can send grid operators scrambling to cover the shortfall and even cause blackouts; unexpected surges can leave conventional power plants idling, incurring costs and spewing pollution to no purpose. ...When wind farms were less common, grid controllers could essentially ignore their varying output, as it was all but indistinguishable from natural fluctuations in consumer use.
Dale Rankin was interviewed by the show for his perspective on wind energy and for his involvement in a lawsuit three years ago brought by Rankin and other Taylor County residents against FPL Energy, an affiliate of Florida Power & Light Co. "My name is used on the lawsuit title (Dale Rankin, et al, plaintiffs vs. FPL Energy, et al Defendants), though there are 11 of us who sued," he said. Rankin and the other plaintiffs lost the lawsuit in 2006, but they have appealed. The lawsuit sought to stop construction of wind turbines on nearby Elm Valley property as part of the Horse Hollow wind farm. ...Consultant Tom Tanton, vice president and senior fellow at the Institute for Energy Research, is serving as technical consultant for the appeal, Rankin said.
...within a month or so, anyone from within miles of the project will be able to see what's going up in what real estate agents have promoted as the Hill Country of North Texas - a series of titan, 260-foot-tall wind generators lining one of the highest, and windiest, points in the region. And before fall sets in, spokesmen say, the 75 generators are expected to be spinning and cranking out electricity. ...Some residents who opposed the turbine project were concerned for the aesthetic changes the generators would bring. "This is one of the prettiest parts of Texas, and soon it won't be as much," said Marian Chappel of Saint Jo. "It sounds good in theory, but people who have checked out all that's involved it's not." A group opposing the Wolf Ridge Wind project, North Texas Wind Resistance, criticizes the actual economic benefit of the generators, and how the fluctuating flow of electricity will cause fossil fuel generators to struggle harder to keep a constant flow of power, which is required to maintain service.
Wind generated electric output in West Texas this Spring has been unable to flow to customers as major transmission lines undergo seasonal maintenance. The lack of sufficient transmission capacity to move wind power from sparsely populated West Texas to densely populated North Texas has led to low on-peak prices and some negative off-peak prices in trading in the ERCOT West zone and for "seller's choice" power. "Small companies may get spooked" by the low prices, said Declan Flanagan, chief executive of E.ON Climate & Renewables North America, which hopes to double its U.S. wind generation to 1,150 megawatts by early next year.
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."
People who want to learn more about wind energy and what it means for the Panhandle and the South Plains should mark 9 a.m. April 24 on their calendars. The House Regulated Industries Committee will hold a public hearing then at the Panhandle Conference Center, Region 16 Education Service Center, 5800 Bell St. in Amarillo, to discuss major wind energy development in the Panhandle/South Plains region. ..."I think it is going to be helpful for some of the members who don't live in wind-generating areas to come out," Smithee said.
The companies are in the permitting phase and a construction and completion schedule is not available. The 800-megawatt project calls for 400 turbines about 350 feet tall spread out over 35,000 acres in Jim Hogg, Webb and Zapata counties, said Cummins. ...The project is the third wind project within 100 miles of Corpus Christi. Oregon-based PPM Energy and Australian-based Babcock and Brown each are planning wind farms in Kenedy County.
The South Plains skyline is rapidly changing as wind turbines continue to pop up across the area. Experts say the turbines will blow more money into our local economy as well as provide electricity to homes at half the cost. But NewsChannel 11 learned when it comes to forecasting the weather the turbines can be quite a nuisance. Because the turbines stand 200 to 300 feet tall, the Super Doppler HD3 radar beam intersects right through them. But instead of showing up on the radar as a turbine, our forecasters see what looks like a storm in the making.
Combined with a $400 million Peñascal Wind Farm on property owned by the John G. Kenedy Jr. Charitable Trust, the projects will place roughly 240 turbines on thousands of acres of Kenedy County property. The Coastal Habitat Alliance, made up of the King Ranch and several environmental groups, agrees wind energy has benefits. But the group cites environmental concerns including potential damage to South Texas bird populations and possible harm to the Laguna Madre as reasons the projects should not happen in Kenedy County. "We are very concerned about impacts," said Jim Blackburn, a Houston environmental attorney representing the Coastal Habitat Alliance. "I am for wind energy. The question is: Is wind supportable at this site?" The Coastal Habitat Alliance has sued the Public Utility Commission and the Texas General Land office to stop the projects ...
Both projects have faced numerous legal challenges, including Tuesday's call for a federal injunction by the Coastal Habitat Alliance -- a nine-member conservation group that includes several environmental groups and the King Ranch, a neighbor to the wind projects. Commissioners, who don't have a stake or say in the future of the projects, agreed to hear a presentation today from Babcock and Brown representatives including chief development officer John Calaway, at the request of Marc Cisneros, who represents the Kenedy Foundation. Nueces County Judge Loyd Neal instructed court staff to invite both advocates and opponents of the wind farms to get a balanced account, said Tyner Little, a special assistant to the commissioners court.
The legal battle over two large wind energy projects on the South Texas coast escalated Tuesday when the Coastal Habitat Alliance asked a federal judge in Austin to halt ongoing construction. Citing the threat of irreparable environmental harm, lawyers for the alliance, a loose coalition of opponents of the massive projects, asked U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel to issue a preliminary injunction against the developers. "The wind farms threaten a particularly precious, vulnerable area surrounding the Laguna Madre," reads the motion. "If (construction) is allowed to continue, this will cause one of the most serious environmental disasters ever to occur on the Texas coast."
GE Energy Financial Services, which invests in energy projects, expects to finish two new wind farms in Texas and Illinois by the third quarter of this year, ahead of any potential tax credit expiration. GE is developing the projects with Invenergy Wind LLC. The farm in Texas, east of Lubbock, will have 100 wind turbines for capacity of 150 megawatts. Mr. Howell declined to say how much the project will cost. Wind developers who can't finish their projects this year could face a second problem. Global demand for wind turbines is so hot that developers must order the equipment months in advance.
The PUC estimates the state will need an additional 75,000 megawatts in the next 18 years as older, less-efficient plants are retired. Statewide, some 20-25 gas-powered plants are being planned, along with three coal plants, and two or three nuclear plants. Wind farms are being added, but they still only provide about 5 percent of the state's electrical needs. Even if it were all the proposed plants were to come onto the grid, Texas might still be paying more for electricity than other states, according to Terry Hadley, spokesman for the Public Utility Commission. "What sticks out is the fuel cost," he said. "Most plants in Texas use natural gas, and the price of natural gas is just soaring."
The blades of the wind turbines at Peñascal Wind Farm in Kenedy County are scheduled to start turning and producing power by December. And when they do, they'll send a welcome jolt to San Antonio. Oregon-based PPM Energy, the project's developer, began construction last fall and is doing roadwork and pouring foundations, said PPM spokeswoman Jan Johnson. The wind farm is expected to have 84 turbines capable of generating 2.4 megawatts a year each. ...The project has seen opposition. Most recently, the project was the subject of state and federal lawsuits by the Coastal Habitat Alliance, filed in December.
Wind turbines more than 300 feet tall might be added to the skyline along the inner harbor if the Port of Corpus Christi approves a land lease with Revolution Energy. The proposal, expected to come before commissioners as early as April, would make the port the first in the country with a wind generation project. Colorado-based Revolution Energy has been conducting feasibility studies on port property for the past year ...the study found favorable wind conditions, adequate existing capacity, no interference with existing airport or military flights and minimal impact to birds. ...Although more in-depth studies, which include more environmental studies, would be needed before determining the number of turbines, Hegedus anticipates no more than 17, each under 450 feet at the highest blade tip. Each tower would require about a quarter of an acre, Perez said.