An assurance from Gov. Rick Perry about the future of wind energy is already boosting spirits in Odessa.
Neil McDonald, economic development director of the Odessa Chamber of Commerce, said he is now talking with three wind power-generation companies interested in the Odessa area.
McDonald acknowledged that Perry’s announcement will help those negotiations along as well as possibly bringing more wind-power representatives to West Texas.
McDonald said it was still too early to identify the companies.
Perry announced Monday a $10 billion investment guarantee from wind-energy developers in exchange for the state’s assurance the power transmission lines will be constructed.
“There’s been a stoppage of investments because they could not get their generated power out because of the lack of transmission capability,” McDonald said. “We will now have an opportunity to build many additional energy-producing facilities because we will have the transmission capability to move the energy to Central and East Texas.”
He also noted the lack of sufficient transmission lines was a negative factor that had to be overcome in Odessa’s effort to lure the $1 billion FutureGen power plant to West Texas.
Odessa is now one of four finalists in competition for that plant.
Meanwhile, wind farms certainly fit neatly into the picture of the Texas energy future, said Kirk Edwards, incoming president of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association and an Odessa oil and gas analyst.
“West Texas has always been a very diverse energy producer – oil, gas, coal and in the future, nuclear, wind and solar. We’re just going to be producing all different types of energy in the future,” he said.
“This is a wonderful announcement for West Texas, because it can allow even more power-generation plants to be built out here, which would help our tax base and provide cheap energy for industry and future development,” Edwards noted.
FPL Energy operates 215
1.3-megawatt wind turbines at the King Mountain generation facility near McCamey, generating 281 megawatts of electricity, according to Steve Stengel, manager of corporate communications for FPL Energy.
He noted recently, however, that when all the wind turbines are spinning at peak capacity, the transmission lines will not handle the load and some turbines must be turned off.
Another potential power-generation company interested in the Texas market is Airtricity, a utility company based in Dublin, Ireland, that plans to build $3 billion in Texas projects in the next seven years, according to Andy Bowman, the company’s senior vice president.
“If Texas will invest in the infrastructure, we will invest in Texas,” he told the Associated Press.
By Bill Modisett
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