Lawyers and other wind energy development stakeholders will gather at Texas State Technical College-West Texas in Sweetwater to assess the swiftly evolving state of wind energy law in Texas.
The second annual Wind Law conference is sponsored by the Texas Tech University School of Law, the West Texas Wind Energy Consortium and the American Wind Energy Association.
The conference will be held in the heart of America’s wind energy industry. Texas leads the nation in wind energy capacity, with the biggest pieces located in Nolan and Taylor counties.
This morning’s theme is ”State of the Wind,” with consortium executive director Greg Wortham kicking off the two-day conference at 9 a.m. with an update of the magnitude of West Texas wind energy.
Other morning speakers include:
9:20 a.m. – Andy Swift, civil engineering professor and director of Texas Tech University’s Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, on ”Strategic Outlook for the Great Plains.”
9:40 a.m. – Sweetwater lawyer Alan Carmichael with a case law update. Carmichael participated in a December trial in Taylor County pitting rural property owners against the owner of a wind farm the property owners claimed constituted a nuisance. The wind farm owner, FPL Energy, prevailed.
10:15 a.m. – Government policy update by Wortham, touching on actions of the Texas Legislature and the U.S. Congress and the 2008 presidential election.
10:45 a.m. – A regulatory and transmission panel update on the Public Utility Commission of Texas and renewable energy zones. Participants are expected to include Ken Donohoo of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and Randy Sowell of Fremantle Energy.
Swift is to provide a wind resource assessment at 11:45 a.m., followed by a 12:05 p.m. discussion of power purchase agreements by San Antonio lawyer N. Beth Emery, and ERCOT queue issues by Donohoo of ERCOT and Charles Freeman of Electric Power Engineers.
A luncheon is scheduled from 1 to 2 p.m.
The afternoon schedule includes:
2-3 p.m. – Issues in Wind Project Operations and Construction, by industry officials.
3 p.m. – Tours of area wind farms.
6 p.m. – Ranch barbecue meal.
Friday morning theme: Managing Wind Wealth
9 a.m. – School finance issues, discussed by David Casey, an Austin lawyer, and Jim Davis, former school superintendent in the Valentine and Blackwell school districts.
10 a.m. – County taxation of wind projects, featuring Oldham County Judge Don Allred and Nolan County Judge Tim Fambrough.
11 a.m.-noon – Overview of landowner leases, by Sweewater attorneys Zollie Steakley, Rod Wetsel and Alan Carmichael.
Lunch will be from noon to 1 p.m.
Friday afternoon’s panel discussion will be about landowner lease issues including wind rights and estate taxes. Several Sweetwater lawyers and Abilene attorney Charles Black will participate.
By Jerry Daniel Reed
14 June 2007
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