Southern Bee County could be home to a new energy source.
But this time, it isn’t coming from the ground.
It’s coming from the air.
Will Furgeson, with Lincoln Renewable Energy, told commissioners last week that he and the company are looking at a multi-phase project named Windwood.
“The area we are looking at right now is at the intersections of Live Oak, San Patricio and Bee counties,” Furgeson said.
Phase 1 of the project will include Bee and Live Oak counties. Phase 2 will include Bee and San Patricio counties.
Furgeson told commissioners that he would be back before them later to ask for a tax abatement. He added that they are currently in negotiations with Mathis ISD for a value-limitation agreement.
“We are looking at a 72-megawatt project,” Furgeson said. “Depending on the size of the turbine, we are probably looking at 30 to 40 turbines.”
The question though is how much a megawatt of energy is really worth.
Well, one megawatt of wind energy is enough to power 350 households, Furgeson said. That also amounts to a savings of 2 million gallons of water per year.
Furgeson added that during the first 20 years of the project, this could mean a savings of 2.8 billion gallons of water.
However, nothing is ever easy, and there are considerations that must be made before starting a project of this magnitude.
“South Texas is a great place to develop a project, but there are a number of some challenges,” Furgeson said. “One of which is military radar, and the other is wildlife.
“We try to avoid migratory pathways.
“We are in our second year of forestry and avian studies, trying to make sure we are correctly understanding the bird species in the area.”
But the benefits outweigh the difficulties.
“The reason this project attracted us is that the South Texas wind profile… is more advantageous to utilities,” Furgeson said. “It is windiest in the afternoon when energy usage is the highest.”
In the Panhandle, where windmills speckle the skyline, the wind blows hardest and most steady at night – a time of lower energy usage.
For those seeing that this is a tremendous benefit to the energy grid, there is always a question of what is in it for the community.
Well, the property owners will get money for leases.
But, according to Furgeson, everyone will actually benefit.
He said that construction alone will pull in numerous workers.
A study published in December 2011 assessed the economic impact of just such wind farms.
It stated that communities see about $520,000 of economic activity per installed megawatt over the life of the project. Calculated out, that means that this community could see an infusion of $37.4 million.
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