Texas hopes to get word this month on whether it has won a bid for a U.S. Energy Department wind turbine testing facility – a prize the state’s land commissioner says would boost Texas’ position as the nation’s leader in wind-generated energy.
Texas bid on the project last year and is in the running with Massachusetts, land commissioner Jerry Patterson said Friday. The research and development facility will test wind turbine blades in excess of 200 feet long.
Patterson said Texas has several pluses in its favor, including a site near Corpus Christi donated by BP PLC and a contingent $5 million appropriation from the Legislature.
“We think we’re uniquely positioned,” Patterson said. “People in Texas are energy-friendly.”
He said blades currently are tested in Golden, Colo., but the next generation of blades for wind turbines are much larger and require a new facility.
Long known as a top producer of oil and gas, Texas last year gained acclaim by surpassing California as the nation’s top producer of wind energy, and that capacity is forecast to grow rapidly in the next several years.
Texas’ wind-power capacity stood at 2,749 megawatts at the end of March, enough to power more than 600,000 average-sized homes a year, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Next up was California with 2,376 megawatts, the association said.
The group also noted the wind industry was on track to add more than 3,000 megawatts of capacity across the U.S. this year – with Texas likely to account for two-thirds of the growth.
In a report released Thursday, the Department of Energy said the nation’s wind-power capacity increased by 27 percent in 2006, and that the U.S. had the fastest-growing wind-power capacity in the world in 2005 and 2006.
The wind energy group says the nation’s cumulative wind power stands at roughly 11,700 megawatts.
Patterson said the expected growth in Texas – coupled with the prospect of landing the government’s blade-testing facility – should also make the state an attractive site for companies that build the blades.
“We’re No. 1 in capacity,” he said. “Now we want to be No. 1 in production, testing and manufacturing all the components.”
By JOHN PORRETTO, The Associated Press
Saturday, June 2, 2007
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