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Crockett wind farm: A new spin on wind in county

The Crockett County Commissioners Court is studying a proposal from an Austin-based wind energy company to install wind turbines in the county.

Representatives from Spinning Star Energy presented the commissioners with tax abatement contracts and a map of the proposed project during their regular meeting Monday. The project calls for 45 wind turbines to be erected in the northwest part of the county.

Fifty-five turbines proposed in neighboring Upton County also are part of the project, and commissioners there already have approved tax abatements.

“We are in a rush to get some feedback and some kind of commitment from Crockett County,” said Shweta Sharma, chief executive officer of Spinning Star Energy. “If we don’t have a tax abatement that is attractive, all turbines go to Upton County.”

Spinning Star Energy has qualified for a federal subsidy that requires the project to be finished by the end of the year.

At the Monday meeting, commissioners hired Sweetwater attorney Allen Carmichael of Wetsel & Carmichael, L.L.P., to advise the county and review the contracts.

The court took up the matter again Wednesday during a special meeting. Commissioners passed a resolution declaring Crockett County eligible to participate in tax abatements and moved to consider creating the Spinning Star Energy Reinvestment Zone.

“These are just preliminary steps,” said County Judge Fred Deaton. “We’ve just entered into negotiations.”

According to its website, Spinning Star Energy is developing a 615 megawatt smart wind ranch consisting of 300 turbines and three new transmission line segments totaling 355 miles. The ranch will be the world’s most advanced wind energy technology project, as well as the second largest wind energy project in the U.S., the company said.

Project partners listed on the company’s website include the United States Renewable Energy Group, Shenyang Power Group of China, the United Steelworkers Union, A-Power Energy Generation Systems, Ltd., and Cielo Wind Power, LP.

Crockett currently has 88 turbines in the western part of the county that were installed in 2000 and are part of the Southwest Mesa Wind project.

The Ozona Stockman newspaper contributed to this story.