Articles from Texas
SARITA — Johnny Vela, among the latest in a long line of Kenedeños who have worked for generations as coastal cowboys in South Texas, knows the friendly history of the legendary side-by-side Kenedy and King ranches. “That’s what we’ve always thought,” said Vela, standing outside his modest home a couple of blocks from the Kenedy County courthouse. Vela and other townsfolk also know that nearly a century and a half of peaceful coexistence has been shattered — and not because of rustling, fences or anything else that might have set neighboring ranches to battle in the Texas of yesteryear. This modern fight is about wind-powered turbines, namely those the Kenedy’s overseers want and the King’s operators don’t. And instead of duking it out on their vast expanses of largely unspoiled range, it’s a war of words mostly waged in office buildings in Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi and even Portland, Ore.
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.
JACKSBORO — The wind rustling the oak trees on the Squaw Mountain Ranch soon may be its undoing as a starkly empty, unspoiled corner of North Texas. Riding the boom that last year pushed Texas past California as the nation’s leading wind energy producer, a wind power company wants to scatter 100 turbines across an area roughly nine miles long and two miles wide, with at least a dozen of the 250-foot towers on the ranch. “I’m not interested in having blinking red lights causing the Milky Way not to be as bright or to hear them when now I hear nothing up here except the sounds of nature,” said ranch manager Dan Stephenson, explaining why the ranch declined to lease land for the project and objects to its neighbors leasing as well. “Wind farm, that’s a spin term,” Stephenson said as he took in a vista of tree-covered ridgelines. “I call them wind turbine industrial zones.”
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.”
Four Texas environmental organizations are suing Gov. Rick Perry over his order to fast-track permitting for proposed power plant projects, alleging the actions are illegal and unconstitutional. TXU Corp. has proposed to build several new coal-powered plants in Texas, and its $10 billion plans in the state include expansion at TXU’s Monticello power station in Mount Pleasant, Texas. The company wants to add a 858-megawatt electric generating unit at the plant which would use coal and lignite. The lawsuit, filed this past week in Travis County state district court, was initiated by four groups, including East Texas Environmental Concerns. Specifically, the lawsuit alleges it’s unconstitutional for Perry to manage the way the State Office of Administrative Hearings conducts hearings. SOAH is now considering TXU’s application after a draft air permit was issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in October...............Ted Royer, spokesman for Perry, disputed the illegality of Perry’s fast-track plan. “It is yet another unfortunate attempt by these groups to turn Texas into California when it comes to generating the power we need. If these groups have their way, a few decades from now Texans will flip a light switch and nothing will happen,” said Royer. “The fact is we are one of the fastest growing states in America and our population will double to 40 million people in the next few decades and that creates a huge demand for energy.” Royer said Perry’s strategy is to address that “coming crisis” through investing in such things as wind energy and clean energy sources and by encouraging conservation and building new plants. He said Perry’s order didn’t lower standards or regulations the new Texas power plants would have to meet.
A group called North Texas Wind Resistance is opposed to the Wolf Ridge Wind Farm a project that could include 65 to 100 turbines in the area. “They’re very inefficient and they’re unreliable because they have to rely on the wind,” said Joe O’Dell, North Texas Wind Resistance Group. Lawyers for the opponents are asking a judge in Gainesville for an injunction, to stop the wind farm. A similar case was recently decided near Abilene. In that decision a jury ruled that the Horse Hollow Wind Farm, called the largest in the world, was not a public nuisance.
BP Alternative Energy North America Inc. expects to begin construction on five U.S. wind power generation projects in 2007 across four states, including Texas. The projects — also located in California, Colorado and North Dakota — are expected to deliver a combined generation capacity of 550 megawatts.
Texas would need about two new power plants each year to keep up with population growth, TXU officials say. TXU has announced a multibillion-dollar investment for expanding electric generation supply, including 11 proposed coal-fueled power plants and voluntary air emissions reductions that will cut emissions by 20 percent of TXU's 2005 totals, even after the new plants are online. Miles McCall, chairman and chief executive officer of TXU Wholesale, and company spokesman Tom Kleckner met Wednesday with editors at the Longview News-Journal to discuss the proposal. The plan also calls for doubling the use of wind power, a $2 billion investment in next-generation clean technologies, including gasification, and TXU Energy's offer of stable pricing options for its customers, McCall said in his presentation.
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.
The most scandalous aspect of the coal-plant controversy is the refusal -- yea, the inability -- of coal-plant foes to describe just how they'd go about providing for Texas' large and growing energy needs at a time of shrinking natural gas supplies and deep opposition to nuclear power. We hear about "conservation." We hear about wind power, solar power; we sometimes even hear about coal gasification. We never hear coal-plant foes explain how that's going to happen, and what it would mean and cost. Coal gasification, for instance: The technology is (at present) expensive and still under development. Wind? A nice little supplement, but a major source? Show us where and how much.
Steve Thompson, attorney for a group of rural Taylor County landowners who on Tuesday lost their lawsuit against the Horse Hollow wind farm, said Wednesday that he’s uncertain what avenue to take on appealing the case. His clients have 30 days from when the verdict was reached to file an appeal, unless they file a motion for a new trial, a move that would extend the deadline to 90 days. The appeal would be heard by the 11th Court of Appeals in Eastland. A 42nd District Court jury on Tuesday declined to find FPL Energy, owner of the Horse Hollow project, liable for creating a nuisance for 11 neighboring properties. Motions for new trials are usually denied, Thompson said. The Houston attorney said that it was too soon after the trial ended to decide which route to take.
‘’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.
Direct Energy has signed a 15-year power purchase agreement with Horizon Wind Energy's Lone Star Wind Farm. Horizon is a Houston-based subsidiary of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and develops and operates wind farms across the country. Direct Energy, a power retailer also based in Houston, said it will purchase all energy output and Renewable Energy Credits from Horizon's new 200-megawatt Lone Star Wind project under construction 15 miles northeast of Abilene.
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.
New wind turbines under construction in West Texas could power the homes of up to 70,000 CPS Energy customers, the utility said this week. The 181 turbines are expected to begin supplying power to CPS Energy by late spring.
A two-week-old trial over how much noise the ‘’world’s largest wind farm'’ produces and whether that noise devalues property is in the hands of jurors. A 10-woman, two-man jury deliberated four hours Monday before calling it a day. The jury will take up where it left off at 9 a.m. today in 42nd District Court.
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.