Tom Green County commissioners scrambled Tuesday to get on board the wind energy express before it leaves the station.
They voted unanimously to lobby the Public Utility Commission for an upcoming designation as a Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ).
Commissioner Ralph Hoelscher has been leading the effort to consolidate Tom Green County property-owners who would be willing to lease land as potential wind farms. Such development is dependent on the close proximity of transmission lines to deliver electricity from rural generators to urban consumers located mostly south and east of San Angelo.
In 2005, the Texas Legislature created CREZ laws encouraging utilities to invest vast sums for infrastructure. In return, utilities can operate transmission lines as monopolies, though regulated by the Public Utilities Commission.
Greg Wortham of Sweetwater, executive director of the West Texas Wind Energy Consortium, told commissioners their support is “critical” if the PUC looks favorably on a CREZ designation for Tom Green County. He represents an area from Dalhart to Del Rio and Fort Worth to El Paso.
Hoelscher compared transmission lines to a superhighway corridor, which serves as a magnet for future wind farm development along its route.
“If we don’t get the designation, Tom Green County could be left behind,” Hoelscher said.
The PUC is expected to announce its decision about CREZ on July 6.
By Perry Flippin
9 May 2007
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