Articles from Texas
Defense testimony wrapped up Thursday in a lawsuit against a Taylor County wind farm, ending the evidence phase and setting the stage for closing arguments Monday morning.
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.
Twenty-five landowners and two service companies were dismissed Tuesday as defendants in a lawsuit brought by 11 rural Taylor County landowners who objected to the construction of the Horse Hollow wind farm. The dismissal left FPL Energy, an affiliate of Florida Power & Light, as the sole defendant in the case. The dismissal came at the plaintiffs’ request as a jury was picked to start hearing the case. Lawyers expect the trial to last two weeks in 42nd District Court.
Opposing attorneys in a lawsuit against a Taylor County wind energy farm expect to finish selecting a jury this morning and then make opening arguments and call witnesses for testimony. The suit was filed in February 2005 against Florida Power & Light and affiliated companies by rural Taylor County residents who claim the Horse Hollow wind energy farm damaged their properties. The lawsuit seeks to stop the project - or, failing that, to recover damages.
Tierra Energy LLC announced today that it has secured a contract to build a $55 million wind farm that will supply a Wyoming power company with renewable energy. Austin-based Tierra Energy's subsidiary, Happy Jack Windpower, will provide Cheyenne Light Fuel & Power with wind-generated energy over a 20-year period. Cheyenne Light Fuel & Power is a subsidiary of Rapid City, S.D.-based Black Hills Corp. (NYSE:BKH).
His distaste for wind-generated energy may have begun as a “not in my back yard” sentiment. But as he learned more about the industry, Rankin said, his attitude hardened. With several of his neighbors, Rankin filed one of the first anti-wind-industry lawsuits in the state, arguing that wind farms are a public nuisance that do little to help the state’s energy needs. “One of the things that really energized us is how quietly, how stealthily and surreptitiously these people worked behind the scenes,” Rankin said. “The lack of regulation, combined with the state renewable-energy mandate, is making Texas a prime spot for these wind companies. But I can tell you, nobody wants to live next to them.”
A major wind-energy production alliance is scheduled to be announced Monday in Round Rock, adding to the state's growing profile in the wind business. TECO-Westinghouse Motor Co., a leading manufacturer of electric motors and generators, will announce an alliance with a California company to produce wind turbine components at its Round Rock facility.
TXU on Friday revealed the first details of how it plans to cut emissions by 20 percent while building 11 new coal-burning power units. The Dallas-based company filed a permit application with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to add pollution-control equipment to its existing Martin Lake coal plant in Rusk County. That plant has three coal-burning units now and would add a fourth under TXU's plans. The Martin Lake retrofit is the first of three that TXU has promised as part of its new coal strategy. Similar announcements are expected by the year's end for the three-unit Monticello plant in Titus County and the two-unit Big Brown plant in Freestone County. Each of those plants is to add one unit.
Texas is in a nationwide race for a giant new U.S. Department of Energy-backed wind turbine research and development center.
Wood, who now is in the business of developing clean power generation and independent transmission, believes the state needs a balanced approach to power generation. "We need wind but we also need coal -- cleaned up as much as you can," Wood suggested, in addition to natural gas, which currently fuels more than half ERCOT's power.
But don`t throw out your electric bill just yet. Patton says we won`t ever get away from using power companies because even Lubbock sees a lazy day or two when the winds just won`t budge.
Greenblatt noted that while wind power could produce impressive amounts of peak energy during strong gusts, the biggest problem was wind power’s intermittency. The problem could be addressed by a process called compressed air energy storage, where excess energy could be used to pump compressed air into underground storage facilities that could include abandoned mines. When the wind was not blowing, he said, the compressed air could be tapped and combined with the burning of natural gas to create high-efficiency electrical generators approximating the efficiency levels of coal-fueled power plants.
TXU Corp. Chairman John Wilder said “everybody’s mad as a hornet” about Texas’ high electricity rates, but said increased supply of electricity that would come from 11 new coal-fired generating plants TXU wants to build would be the solution to Texas’ increasingly tight electricity supply. Wilder acknowledged that TXU probably won’t be able to achieve significant carbon dioxide emission reductions for years, perhaps as late as 2020, he said, but added “there is no perfect fuel for electricity generation........ Wind power, Wilder said, is inefficient because wind can’t be depended on to blow consistently at the right times “and besides, it costs 12-14 cents per kilowatt hour to make electricity from wind unless it is subsidized by the government.”
Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. will form a joint venture with American Electric Power Co., owner of the biggest U.S. network of high-voltage electricity lines, to build transmission lines in Texas. The venture will take on as much as $1 billion of projects in the next several years, Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric said Monday in a prepared statement. American Electric will contribute $100 million of existing power-line projects, and MidAmerican will contribute cash to the 50-50 venture.
John Richey of Chico is concerned about global warming and thinks that anything people can do to help the cause is worthwhile. With that in mind, Richey attended a meeting about wind turbines in Jacksboro on Monday night. The speakers at the meeting – held before a packed house in the Jacksboro High School auditorium – were generally opposed to wind turbines.
Jack County residents debate value of alternative energy source A gathering of people in Jacksboro on Monday might go down in the books as an early skirmish in a looming battle that could pit neighbor against neighbor and play out in courtrooms across the region. The issue is wind.
A gathering of people in Jacksboro on Monday might go down in the books as an early skirmish in a looming battle that could pit neighbor against neighbor and play out in courtrooms across the region. The issue is wind.
Residents of Jack and surrounding counties nearly filled a school auditorium Monday to hear speakers presented by a group opposing wind turbines in the region. Jack County Concerned Landowners, which hosted the forum, invited residents of Archer, Cooke, Montague, Palo Pinto, Wichita, Wise and Young counties to attend. Arguing against development of wind energy were Jack Hunt, president and CEO of King Ranch in Kingsville, Texas, Thomas Hewson, an energy and environmental consultant, and Steven Thompson, a Houston attorney specializing in environmental law and wind energy.
Irish renewable energy company Airtricity said on Tuesday it had secured $85 million in equity funding to help develop its Sand Bluff wind farm project near Big Spring, Texas. “We are pleased to have entered into this equity financing with investors led by JPMorgan Capital Corporation,” Airtricity Chief Executive Eddie O’Connor said in a statement. Airtricity said its 90 megawatt Sand Bluff wind farm, which is under construction, was expected to start commercial operation during the second quarter of 2007. The deal is the latest in a series of agreements to secure funding for a number of wind farms planned by privately owned Airtricity, in the United States, Ireland and the UK.
The Panhandle could be a step closer to plugging into the electric market downstate on Monday.