Library filed under Impact on Economy from Texas
A power producer typically gets paid for the power it generates. In Texas, some wind energy generators are paying to have someone take power off their hands. Because of intense competition, the way wind tax credits work, the location of the wind farms and the fact that the wind often blows at night, wind farms in Texas are generating power they can't sell. To get rid of it, they are paying the state's main grid operator to accept it. $40 a megawatt hour is roughly the going rate.
The negative prices appear to be the result of the large installed capacity of wind generation. Wind generators face very small costs of shutting down and starting back up, but they do face another cost when shutting down: loss of the Production Tax Credit and state Renewable Energy Credit revenue which depend upon generator output. It is economically rational for wind power producers to operate as long as the subsidy exceeds their operating costs plus the negative price they have to pay the market. Even if the market value of the power is zero or negative, the subsidies encourage wind power producers to keep churning the megawatts out.
When investor Boone Pickens put a hold on a huge wind power project in the Texas Panhandle that he had announced in the spring, he wasn't alone. A number of wind power developers and researchers say the ongoing credit crisis, together with transmission congestion in West Texas and falling natural gas prices, will slow the state's breakneck expansion of wind capacity. ...But there also is a peculiar wrinkle in wind power's finance that makes the current environment doubly challenging. "Most wind projects in the U.S. are funded by investors with an appetite for tax benefits," said David Groberg, vice president of Invenergy Wind, a Chicago-based company with 690 megawatts of wind capacity in Texas.
A wind tower manufacturing company, facing construction costs that were significantly higher than expected, received a shot in the arm Tuesday. Members of the Development Corporation of Abilene voted to approve Tower Tech Systems Inc.'s request for additional money -- up to $700,000 more -- to help cover nearly $7 million in unanticipated building costs.
A deflating economy has taken the wind out of a massive Panhandle alternative energy project. Tight lending stalled a $2 billion wind farm project headed by billionaire oilman and alternative power proponent T. Boone Pickens. Pickens' BP Capital delayed work on a state permit to build 170 miles of transmission lines carrying enough wind energy to power 300,000 homes.
Texas consumers and taxpayers could pay more than $2.2 billion a year in subsidies and higher transmission costs to take advantage of the state's abundant wind-generation resources, a free-market research group said on Tuesday. The state's current push to accelerate use of wind-generated electricity is "costing, not saving, Texans billions of dollars," said Bill Peacock, director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Center for Economic Freedom. ...By 2025, the study said the price tag could total $60 billion as Texas reaches 10,000 megawatts of wind capacity.
Wind turbines are generating more than electricity in Coke County. They're also producing significantly more tax dollars for the Robert Lee Independent School District. And that's the problem. Under the state's "Robin Hood" school funding formula that takes from more affluent and gives to less affluent districts, Robert Lee ISD could end up benefiting little from the cash windfall. ...Under the present system, the state "recaptures" funds from property-wealthy districts and uses them to assist with financing public education in school districts deemed property poor.
When Young County commissioners began discussing details of the abatement with special counsel Alan Carmichael last week, the majority seemed very interested in finding a way to maximize the amount of money Young County stands to bring in if the farm is built. While that makes perfect sense up front, it could prove perilous to the entire project. With several other counties vying for wind farms from BP, it may not take much to sway the company one way or another. In Archer County, rumor has it that commissioners are planning to agree exactly to the proposal made by BP.
Wind is always available and it doesn't pollute the planet. But as wonderful as it sounds, using the resource for energy could come with a hefty price tag. ...But there's a big problem. The Texas Public Utility Commission [PUC] hasn't approved a way to funnel all the power from the wind farms in West Texas and eventually the panhandle, into the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Ross points out, "The only impediment we have right now is the construction of transmission lines. We've got to construct the wires to move the power back to Dallas/Fort Worth." According to the PUC, that could cost at least $1 million per mile to get the power into the local area.
Colorado has lost out on a bid for a Vestas Wind Systems research center. Vestas, which opened a major blade-manufacturing plant earlier this year in Windsor, announced Monday it will locate the research facility in Houston. Colorado was the other finalist, according to Tom Clark, executive vice president of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.
Two area wind energy opponents filed a lawsuit Monday against the Taylor County Commissioners Court for granting what the plaintiffs say are illegal tax abatements to wind farms developed within the county. According to the lawsuit, wind energy equipment is not eligible for tax abatements under the state tax code. In 2004 and 2006, Taylor County commissioners granted five tax abatements potentially worth $5 million to $10 million to three companies that have built farms of wind turbines in rural areas of the county. "That's my money the county is giving away illegally. We're asking the court to rectify this," said Dale Rankin, one of two plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
Mr. Robert L. Cook, a wildlife biologist and former Executive Director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) provided this testimony before the Brown County Commissioners Court. Mr. Cook supports his recommendation that a wind farm tax abatement not be granted on wind projects in the county.
There's a new sound out on the green grid of cotton fields that make up what West Texans affectionately call the "Big Country." Joining the hum of a seemingly ever-present wind is the rhythmic whoosh of spinning carbon-fiber blades on dozens of huge wind turbines. ...Climate change experts say projects like the Roscoe wind farm could be essential to slowing climate change. They note the electricity generated by an 800-megawatt wind farm is essentially pollution-free. But people here aren't spending a lot of time thinking about how they're saving the planet. In fact, a lot of them are dubious of the whole concept of global warming. ...Out here, the excitement over the wind farm is all about another kind of green [money].
No action was taken by Gray County commissioners Thursday morning to establish a reinvestment zone concerning a proposed wind farm by T. Boone Pickens, a Roberts County rancher and Dallas businessman. ...A reinvestment zone, once called an enterprise zone, is an area in which businesses could apply for potential tax abatements if they establish a facility within the zone ...The wind farm is expected to consist of approximately 1,400 generators spread over 300,000 acres in areas of Gray, Hemphill, Roberts and Wheeler counties, with most of the units in Gray and Roberts counties.
Hoping to stabilize a $150 million annual electricity bill, Houston officials have negotiated a contract to ensure that a third of the city's power is generated by wind. If approved, the contract would make Houston a leader among local governments across the country using renewable energy.
LUBBOCK - Texas figures to lead the nation in renewable energy production by 2025 and stands to gain $22.8 billion in annual economic activity and 173,400 jobs overall, according to a study backed by a group that supports alternative sources of power.
Ladd said the purpose of tonight's meeting is to get concerned taxpayers who don't like the idea of "wasting our tax dollars, increasing our electric bills and diminishing our property values 30 to 40 percent" involved. "If it were not for the tax credits involved, we would not have wind turbines being constructed in the state of Texas," Ladd said. "... It's the biggest waste of tax dollars I have ever seen."
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.
One energy company showed Wednesday it is ready to spend more than $1.75 billion to capture the power of Panhandle wind. The plan is to construct what a company executive called "one of the largest wind farms in the world." Andy Bowman, senior vice president of Airtricity, the North American subsidiary of an Irish company, described the project in financial commitment testimony to the Public Utilities Commission in Austin. "The Gray County project is a 1,500-megawatt project planned to be constructed in three 500-megawatt phases," according to Bowman's testimony. The project would generate $8 million in an initial payment to landowners of 55,000 acres the company says it has leased in Gray County. The leases run up to 33 years.
The Plaintiffs acquired their properties with the intent of country living, enjoying the wildlife on their properties, some hunt on their properties, some let others hunt on their properties yet the Plaintiffs have suffered the following effects from the erection of the turbines: significant loss of use and enjoyment of their properties, negative impacts on the wildlife on their properties, interference with the ability to hunt and have others hunt on their properties, interference with the electrical functioning of their homes such as satellites, televisions, and the circuitry, destruction of the scenic countryside, a diminishing of the use of the properties for outside functions, lights, noise, trespass by the Defendants onto their properties, damage to their homes from dynamite blasts, cutting down trees by the Defendants on a Plantiff's property, concern for the health impacts of living under turbines, dread, fear and the loss of the previous love for their homes. The Public as well has suffered a loss from the destruction of this scenic and historic area of Taylor County and the complete disregard of FPL Energy, LLC for the endangered species in the area when it constructed Callahan Divide Wind Farm.