Articles filed under Impact on Economy from Texas
Sheppard Air Force Base has asserted that proposed wind developments in nearby Clay County would interfere with its radar operation and flight training missions. If erected, wind turbines in a 25-mile radius of the base could cause Sheppard's mission to be moved to another military installation, a move that likely would be a crippling blow to the Wichita Falls economy.
Along with the oil and gas industry, manufacturing companies and the university, Sheppard Air Force Base was identified in the study as one of the primary drivers of the area economy. The loss of any of those employment hubs "is going to have a profound impact on the surrounding counties," Martinez said in an interview.
In the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, the mighty state of Texas was asleep. The honky-tonks in Austin were shuttered, the air-conditioned office towers of Houston were powered down, and the wind whistled through the dogwood trees and live oaks on the gracious lawns of Preston Hollow. Out in the desolate flats of West Texas, the same wind was turning hundreds of wind turbines, producing tons of electricity at a time when comparatively little supply was needed.
But the city-owned utility, Austin Energy, has balked at the council’s proposal and said it would be too expensive for ratepayers. And since then, a debate has ensued over how to be politically progressive and economically practical at the same time. ...“It’s good to have aspirations except if the aspirations are so far afield that they are simply going to be ignored.”
The city is against a wind farm project, but it's not within their power to stop it. Now they're asking lawmakers to change that.
City officials said Portland has consistently grown at about 1.5-percent for the past 10-15 years, adding that they have done that by encouraging single-family home development ...However, they said that being so close to the wind turbines in nearby Taft will be the city's biggest challenge for further growth. "What we understand from talking to developers is that they are reluctant to build single-family subdivisions in the shadow of wind turbines."
District Superintendent Christina Gutierrez said the school board has opposed tax incentives because economic losses from military cutbacks or closures could outweigh gains from the wind farm. The Kingsville base employed 597 military and 1,224 civilian personnel in 2010.
Keith Ellis, senior industrial and personal property appraiser, said there are several reasons wind farms and wind turbines have dropped in value. The price of electricity was low at the beginning of the year when values were set, he said, which means wind farms were not as profitable.
Texas is overpaying to lure major economic development projects, particularly wind farms, under a state law that allows school districts to grant tax breaks to recruit capital-intensive industries, a new study by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs concludes. Granting school property tax breaks has helped Texas attract manufacturing plants ...but the program "has increasingly been used to over-incentivize projects that create few or no jobs."
A group of senators wants to halt stimulus funding for several wind projects regarding concern that the program has subsidized too many jobs overseas. The dispute began after a planned Texas wind farm with substantial Chinese investment announced it would seek a $450 million stimulus tax credit. The developers initially said the project would support 3,000 jobs in China and about 300 in Texas.
A group of Democratic senators may seek to halt stimulus funding for wind-energy projects over concerns that the program is subsidizing jobs overseas. The dispute was prompted by a proposed wind farm in West Texas, whose investors planned to use Chinese-made turbines and seek a $450 million stimulus grant. The senators insist that stimulus funds shouldn't go to projects that get most of their materials from abroad and create "the bulk of their jobs" in other countries.
The rush to America of foreign wind-turbine manufacturers shows that the Obama administration's plan for stimulating the creation of green-energy jobs is going in an odd direction. Two weeks ago, U.S. Renewable Energy Group, led by Dallas investor Cappy McGarr, announced plans to build a $1.5 billion wind energy farm in West Texas. About a third of the money would come from federal stimulus funds. ...There would be perhaps 330 jobs created in Texas. Most would be temporary construction jobs. Meanwhile, thousands of Chinese workers in the northeastern industrial city Shenyang would build the labor-intensive turbines.
The equation changed in the winter, when layoffs hit the wind industry hard, Shamblin said. Unemployment for June was 6.7 percent, still below the state average but the highest in Nolan County since at least 2000. Rainey would hear again from his former employees around March, after the completion of some wind construction projects. "When it all shut down, all four of them came back looking for a job. By then, it'd slowed down for us, too," Rainey said.
Austin Energy, Austin's municipal power utility, was the first in the nation to give consumers the option of buying green-powered electricity. And as recently as last year the city's green power program, called GreenChoice, was number one in the nation, in terms of sales. This year, 99% of the city's allotment of green power remains unsold, even after seven months on the market, according to the Austin Statesman.
Meanwhile, lawmakers are trying to pass House Bill 1273 and the bill says that money given by wind energy farms to wealthy districts need to be part of "Robin Hood." "Robin Hood" will then distribute the money through out other districts. Now some school districts in the Big Country can be heavily affected if House Bill 1273 passes.
Property values are soaring in this West Texas community, and the reason is obvious. Looming on the northern horizon, hundreds of new wind turbines dot the once-barren hills. Ordinarily, much of the tax dollars generated by the turbines would go to the state's "Robin Hood" school finance plan, which requires property-rich districts to share their wealth with those less fortunate. But that won't happen in Sterling City, at least not if school officials have their way.
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.