Articles filed under Zoning/Planning from Texas
MELISSA, Texas - An orange flag marks where Gary Lisle planned to put up a 33-foot windmill behind his house. But that's about as far as his green idea got in this Dallas suburb. Denied a building permit in March, Lisle joined the growing ranks of frustrated homeowners across the U.S. whose hopes of harvesting wind energy in their backyards have been dashed. Some communities have outlawed residential turbines. Others entangle applicants in so much red tape that they simply give up.
Meanwhile, as the nation considers options for future energy development, environmental questions have emerged as important considerations, the NRC report states. Proponents point out that wind-energy facilities emit no atmospheric pollutants and are driven by a renewable source, addressing multiple environmental concerns such as air quality and climate change. However, the NRC report also points out that the expansion of such facilities can carry adverse environmental impacts.
Tom Green County commissioners scrambled Tuesday to get on board the wind energy express before it leaves the station. They voted unanimously to lobby the Public Utility Commission for an upcoming designation as a Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ).
Wind turbines produce none of the pollution that contributes to climate change, a top priority among many environmentalists. But wind turbine projects in Texas have run into opposition from birding groups, who say the giant windmills kill birds, and from some ranchers, who worry that they could hamper hunting and tourism activities. Although the report found "no evidence of significant impacts on bird populations," it suggests that policymakers consider aesthetic, cultural, human health and environmental impacts before approving wind power projects.
The possibility that giant wind turbines could someday find homes on Gillespie County hills is drawing notice among landowners, business interests and area residents. Some landowners in a north-central section Gillespie County say they have been contacted by representatives of a company called AES Wind Generation about the possibility of signing lease agreements to allow construction of the large energy-generating towers on their individual properties as part of a larger wind farm operation. Meanwhile, AES is also reportedly engaged in a preliminary stage of studying whether or not the wind currents in that part of the county would make such a wind farm practical.
A new study could put 10 Texas counties in front of the pack to lure wind energy companies and related industries to them. The city of Childress, along with 10 counties and Harmon County in Oklahoma, have formed the Rolling Plains Rural Partnership and are applying for a $150,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Office. The yearlong study, if funding is approved, would place about nine or 10 anemometers around the partnership's area. The anemometers collect and record wind data for the entire year. The exact areas the towers will be located will be determined by a meteorologist and based on elevations and current and future transmission lines. What the group is banking on is the creation of the Panhandle Loop, an electrical transmission system being debated that would transmit electricity from West Texas to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas's grid, which provides electricity to a majority of Texas residents. The $1.5 billion loop is in the planning stages, but is awaiting the outcome of June hearings by the Public Utilities Commissions to approve wind energy areas in West Texas.
In a letter to Gov. Rick Perry last year, James Clement Jr., chairman of the board of the fabled King Ranch, vowed that the ranch will fight a new threat to its land as it has all others: "We have been here for 150 years fighting droughts, border raiders, and unstable commodity markets. . . . We are here to stay." The new threat, unlike the others, is a recent phenomenon: wind power. King Ranch Inc., the agricultural holding company that owns the South Texas ranch and other properties, is backing legislation that could choke off the boom in Texas wind energy by requiring new state regulations of wind turbines.
Wind Energy Systems Technology's Gulf of Mexico wind farm is competing with Massachusetts' Cape Wind to be the first U.S. offshore project. The Louisiana company is getting a 120-foot meteorological tower ready to be towed into the Gulf of Mexico near Galveston, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. The tower will take round-the-clock and monthly wind readings as well as track the flight patterns of migratory birds crossing the coastline so that the right location is chosen for the turbines.
Big Country landowners who lost a lawsuit last year against FPL Energy over the company's Horse Hollow wind farm plan to file an appeal soon. In December, a jury ruled against about ten plaintiffs who said the wind farm created a public nuisance near their homes, siding instead with FPL Energy. Patricia Lapoint, who lives near Tuscola, said an appeal is being drafted, and most of the original plaintiffs are participating. It will likely be filed in the 11th Court of Appeals in Eastland. A judge recently decided the plaintiffs do not have to pay FPL Energy's legal fees from the original lawsuit, which amount to $30,000 to $40,000. Lapoint said the plaintiffs will have a better chance of winning the appeal because more information will be taken into consideration during the process. "The scope of the district trial was very limited," Lapoint said.
A Louisiana company plans to install the first of 50 wind turbine platforms 10 miles off Galveston Island this week, moving the project closer to its goal of becoming the first U.S. offshore wind farm. Galveston Offshore Wind, a division of Wind Energy Systems Technologies, plans to install a former oil production platform in about 50 feet of water in the coming days. At first weather-data-gathering instruments will sit on top of a tower some 300 feet above sea level, but by September the company hopes to have its first wind turbine in place.
Several Texas energy companies offered Thursday to build a string of wind, gas and coal-fired power plants and transmission lines across the Panhandle that could lessen the state’s future dependence on coal while supplying enough electricity for more than a million Texas homes. More than 15 proposals were filed with the Public Utilities Commission to meet a Thursday deadline for competitive renewable energy zones, mostly in the Panhandle and West Texas. The largest proposal, called the Panhandle Loop, involves a $1.5 billion transmission system and $10 billion in power plants. Project sponsors say the entire system could be available within three years.
Allowing a 200-foot weather tower and the management of the Congressman Solomon P. Ortiz International Center will be discussed today by Port of Corpus Christi commissioners. Colorado-based Revolution Energy, LLC filed a permit for a two-year agreement with the port to install a meteorological tower to collect wind data. Tibor Hegedus, president and chief project developer for Revolution, said that if wind conditions are good, the company might invest in a wind farm. Commissioners will discuss leasing a quarter acre near the Corpus Christi Railroad Terminal office on the north side of the harbor. The location provides an ideal location for the tower, Hegedus said. “The visual impact of wind turbines sometimes raises questions of concern, but in a setting with smokestacks and such, it may mitigate concern,” Hegedus said. Commissioners also are expected to award a contract to Ovations Food Service, LP, a subsidiary of Comcast Spectacor, for the management and operation of the Ortiz Center. Comcast Spectacor is a Philadelphia-based sports and entertainment firm. Port officials previously said Comcast was being chosen because of its experience managing facilities. Comcast operates more than 60 facilities in the United States and Canada, including Nueces County’s Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds. The port looked for a company that would assume all responsibility for the center. Comcast, through its subsidiary Ovations Food Services, would handle accounting, event bookings and catering, he added. The center had been managed by Norris Training Systems Inc., based in Houston, and Water Street Inc. provided catering.
Every energy source has its price, whether it be noxious emissions, radioactive waste or scenic blight. Regulating wind power sites to mitigate danger to wildlife and to preserve treasured scenery should be a given as Texas charts its energy future.
One problem with wind power generation is that the wind blows in West Texas, but people need the electricity on the other side of the state. American Electric Power and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. want to build more transmission lines to bring wind power across the state, and to support the power grid. The companies said Tuesday they will form a joint venture called Electric Transmission Texas LLC and will invest $1 billion in more transmission equipment.
It’s windy, man. No, not that Windy Man, the disgraced concrete structure that state officials once planned to put around Lubbock highways. Rather, it’s the non-stop howling variety that is, more and more, bringing money to the region. Investors see potential in what people here have known for a long time about the South Plains and Panhandle - it’s windy, man. Some of the best wind in Texas hits ridge lines in the Davis Mountains and mesas in Taylor County near Abilene. That’s hundreds of miles of away. But there’s a small stretch of ideal wind pockets along the Caprock in Dickens, Floyd, Motley and Briscoe counties. “We have a lot of developers call us up and say, ‘Where’s nobody looking?’” said David Carr, assistant director at the AEI. “I don’t think there’s going to be that magic spot, but if there is one … that’s a pretty hot spot.”
A 63-turbine wind energy farm was approved by the Mower County Board of Commissioners. High Prairie Wind Farm II's environmental assessment and conditional use permit were both approved. They can begin to construct, operate and maintain a 161 kv substation and high voltage transmission line powered by wind energy, reported the Austin Daily Herald.
‘’Our motto is going to be ‘Remember the Alamo!,”’ Rankin said. ‘’For Texas to win its independence, it had to lose the Alamo first. But then it won at San Jacinto. We’re definitely headed for San Jacinto.'’ Plaintiffs attorney Steve Thompson said the verdict was the first of its kind in Texas. ‘’This was just the first salvo,'’ he said. Thompson said he had filed lawsuits contesting proposed wind farms in Jack and Cooke counties in north Texas.
In a case watched closely by the wind industry, a jury in Texas has found a huge wind farm not responsible for creating a private nuisance - and awarded the plaintiffs nothing. It was one of the nation’s first nuisance lawsuits against a wind farm. A jury of 10 women and two men found that Juno Beach, Fla.-based FPL Energy LLC (FPLE) did not create a private nuisance when it constructed the massive Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, the world’s largest wind farm, near Abeline, Texas. The trial judge Weeks issued directed verdicts in favor of FPLE against two additional plaintiffs. The case was closely watched by energy industry observers because of the potential impact on future wind farm construction.
The council, without hesitation, did vote unanimously to amend the Lewisville Code of Ordinances to prohibit the use of wind turbines for the generation of electric power within the city limits of Lewisville. The council agreed that, at least until technology improves so the wind turbines will create less noise, that they will not be allowed in the city limits.
Texas has surpassed California as the country’s top wind-energy producer, but the new technology is clashing with old ranching ways Texas ranchers have embraced helicopters for herding, wireless Internet access for keeping an eye on the futures markets and microchips for tracking their cattle, but there is one piece of modern technology that is sparking a range war in the vast open spaces of the state — the windmill turbine, which opponents say is noisy, ugly, dangerous to wildlife and a tax boondoggle to boot.