A blizzard of paper blew into Austin on Wednesday and Thursday as wind power companies filed details on their plans in the Panhandle.
The filings came right on the Public Utilities Commission deadline for companies to produce reports of their financial commitment to wind projects they have proposed, said Terry Hadley, spokesman for the PUC.
Including the whopper report by Airtricity for a $1.75 billion project in Gray and Carson counties, 11 companies put forth their commitments.
From the eight companies that include details of land deals, at least 477,000 acres, or 745 square miles, are leased for the right to use them for wind farms or are the subject of negotiations.
Two, RES America Developments and Shell WindEnergy, blacked out all the figures in their reports that tell how many acres they have leased and how much money they have spent or will spend.
PPM Energy skirts the acreage issue, but includes some other details.
The Airtricity deals would produce 2,235 megawatts of power, about double what’s generated at Xcel Energy’s Harrington Unit. It has a total of about 70,000 acres leased.
“They are allowed to unless someone objects,” Hadley said.
A newly formed entity that took over wind power activities from Mesa Water, Mesa Power reported it plans to lease more acres than any others who reported their intentions. Mesa is negotiating with landowners for 200,000 acres. The land is in Roberts, Gray and Hemphill counties.
“These landowners are the same landowners from whom an affiliate of Mesa Power has obtained water rights,” said Michael Boswell, an officer of Mesa Power, in his written testimony.
According to the report, Mesa has already spent more than $200,000 pursuing wind projects.
“More importantly, Mesa Power has the full financial backing of its parent,” Boswell said.
Mesa is part of BP Capital Management, an energy investment company led by Boone Pickens. According to Bloomberg.com, Pickens earned $1.5 billion in 2005.
Mesa is negotiating with three wind development companies to move the project along.
Cielo Salt Fork
The company, a subsidiary of Cielo Wind which most recently put together the Wildorado Wind Farm, reports having lease and other types of agreements for 17,000 acres in Carson, Gray and Donley counties for three proposed projects. The total output of the projects could be 640 megawatts.
Horizon Wind Energy
Harvesting wind in Briscoe County is the focus of Horizon Wind Energy. It reports lease agreements for 45,816 acres. As of Wednesday, the company had committed more than $2.4 million for those leases.
Its proof of financial commitment includes a guaranteed deposit of $12,500 for each megawatt it expects to produce. At 600 megawatts, that totals $7.5 million.
Invenergy Wind North America
The company has wind projects in 20 states and Central Europe, according to its filing.
Invenergy plans for 800 megawatts of production. It has spent $234,099 to study the feasibility of wind energy in the south-central Panhandle. That includes initial payments for surface rights on 51,000 acres. It has committed $113,000 for environmental studies and another $160,000 for surveys.
To complete the project, the company estimates it will spend more than $1.4 billion.
Current major customers for this Oregon-based natural gas electric company include the cities of Seattle and Sacremento, Calif., Xcel Energy and Pacific Gas & Electric.
So far, PPM has spent $40,000 on towers that have been monitoring wind conditions since 2002 in the east-central part of the Panhandle. The company expects to spend more than $100,000 on a request to connect to the Southwest Power Pool, the grid that serves the Panhandle, and about that for a similar request to connect to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.
The company is pursuing a project to produce up to 500 megawatts of electricity. It reports having options to lease enough land to produce 300 megawatts.
To cope with a shortage of turbines for wind projects, PPM cites its purchase and agreements to purchase turbines to fulfill various projects through 2009.
Eurus Energy America
Castro County is where this company proposes building a 200 megawatt project called Caprock Wind. It reports an agreement to gain access to 24,113 acres of land for 50 years. The company has paid more than $116,000 toward development.
Eurus’s commitment papers say the Mizuho Corporate Bank has provided a $400 million “financing facility” letter. The company’s two shareholders are Tokyo Electric Power and Toyota Tsusho, the trading arm of the Toyota Group.
The company’s filing cites its 480 megawatts of development in Randall, Deaf Smith and Castro counties west of Happy. It has leased about 20,000 acres and acquired some transmission easements. It has spent $100,000 and expects to spend that much for leasing in 2007.
It has also spent about $180,000 on other things to develop the Happy Whiteface project including a connection request to SPP, towers to measure wind and services like legal and technical aid.
Chermac is also looking to develop wind projects in the east-central Panhandle around 2010 and has allocated up to $1.5 million to get them going.
BP Wind Energy North America
The total capacity of its proposal is about 1,100 megawatts with close to 50,000 acres under control or in final negotiations.
BP Wind Energy, a subsidiary of oil giant BP, has a multi-year turbine supply agreement with Clipper Windpower that makes the companies equal partners in projects they participate in.
“To date, (BP), has expended millions of dollars so far on this project,” according to its filing. The proposed projects stretch across the southeast quadrant of the Panhandle, an area east of a line from Borger to Hereford to south of Childress.
RES America Developments
This company is constructing a 60 megawatt project over 8,000 acres in Floyd County but intends to create others of undisclosed size and cost in Floyd and Briscoe counties.
Briscoe County is also the site of Shell’s proposed project. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of the oil company of the same name. Shell already owns part of and operates the wind farm at White Deer. The company reports it has 55 lease agreements but does not disclose the price, location or amount of acres.
By Kevin Welch
25 March 2007
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