If you’ve got a lot of it why not make is use of it–that’s what state legislators and the state Public Utility Commission are hoping the Panhandle wind can do to meet energy needs in South Texas.
West Texas has been marked by Electric Reliability Council of Texas or ERCOT, as prime real estate for wind energy developments and additional wind farms are expected to move into the area.
Most of those giant whirly gigs stand taller than a 20 story building and a propeller is as long as two tractor trailers. On an ideal windy day one wind turbine can produce enough electricity to power up to thousand households.
Texas legislators pushed tax incentives with wind producers to make wind the renewable energy choice of Texas. This brought wind projects like Llano Estacto to White Deer and the world’s largest wind farm, Horse Hollow near Abilene.
The towering wind giants of Horse Hollow hang on the land next to Dale Rankin’s property. He grew up here and decided to make his home there back in 1989.
“It was open it was free, you know you felt like you were alone when you came up here. You felt like you were out in the county,” Rankin said. But now he describes there are as an industrial freak show.
Rankin and ten other landowners tried to stop the project in 2005 by filing a lawsuit stating the turbines are a nuisance.
“We thought about them the same way. We thought ok wind energy is good its green, its free and so maybe we won’t fuss about it. But when we began researching it, the data on wind farms they’re not green.”
Thomas Tanton who has thirty-five year of energy industry research experience, has worked with the California Energy Commission. He isn’t completely opposed to wind energy, he feels its not a perfect solution to our energy needs.
“Wind is intermittent the generators are only producing at certain times and other power plants are required to ramp up and down. In response to that intermittence in order to keep the grid in balance,” Tanton explain.
Xcel Energy, whose touting to be the nation’s wind energy leader, has farms in San Hone, Llano Estcoto, and Wildorado. Spokesman Wes Reeves said its Harrington coal plant has always been a clean coal burning plant. The ramping there is limited.
“Cool plants and natural gas plants provide a base load for our power system and the coal plant doesn’t work really will with wind,” stated Xcel’s Spokesmen Wes Reeves. “If once you bring wind on, and the wind picks up and starts powering, then you have to back off your other generation.”
But there are wind farm neighbors that ” think their cool”. Dale Artho who lives outside of Wildorado, and his land sits right next to the wind farm.
“I think they are pretty cool,” landowner Dale Artho said. “I mean I think wow look at the opportunity in it.”
From his sight on the issue this can increase to the tax base for a small community, create some new jobs, and as for the noise they make.
“When your right next to the mills, its a swoosh,” he described. He said you can’t hear them over a half mile away. But when he is within a hundred yards or so of them he can hear them.
Artho said it’s an issue that will always come up when something new is created. Plus it’s not his property.
“You know that’s his land over there and if that’s what he wants to do on his place, that’s fine with me. As long as he doesn’t tell me what I need to do with my place.”
Rankin and his group lost their first round in the courtroom, but are appealing. He knows the towers are here to stay.
His only hope is people will speak up before letting these whirling giants move into the neighborhood.
“I’m said that we are distorting our country for something that doesn’t work and spending tax money to do it,” Rankin said.
16 May 2007
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