A Detroit-area company plans to make use of the Reese Technology Center as a proving ground for a wind energy experiment that it says will transform the industry.
But the board of the Lubbock Reese Redevelopment Authority had little, if any, light to shed on a 140-foot tower that will be erected by Watts Energy Management in February as part of a six-month lease.
John Tye, redevelopment authority chairman, said Wednesday if the experiment is successful, Watts intends to expand its operation at Reese, using the former Air Force base as an assembly point to build next-generation, wind-generating towers, which he was told require less land and little, if any, wind to produce electricity.
“If you asked me what it looks like or how it works, I just don’t know,” said Tye.
However, both Tye and his board were required to sign non-disclosure agreements to protect what the company described as a proprietary wind technology.
Watts officials were unavailable to comment on the project and even less is known about the company through its Web site.
Watts claims its technology can produce electricity where windy conditions are marginal at best and that it requires a “fraction of the land” to operate a multi-megawatt farm.
Tye said Watts officials have talked with Texas Tech’s Wind Science and Engineering Research Center, which also is based at Reese. Andy Swift, with the Tech research center, said they weren’t working with Watts at this time.
Todd Reno, director of business development at Reese, said the Southfield, Mich.-based company intends to lease a 25,000-square-foot hangar near the Lubbock Police Academy at a cost of $6,541 a month.
“If the experiment goes well, they’ve said they’ll assemble them here and move them to other wind farms,” Reno said.
It is unknown just how many industrial assembly jobs could result if Watts gets the results it’s looking for. However, Reno said Watts officials have also signaled that if the test is a success, the company will require an additional 55,000-square-foot hangar.
By Chris Van Wagenen
24 January 2008
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