Cielo Wind Power has been thinking about building a wind farm somewhere on Port of Brownsville property for a decade or so.
The Austin-based company is still thinking about it, and it’s by no means certain all the pieces will fall into place and all the obstacles will be cleared away for such a project to become a reality.
So says Walter Hornaday, who founded Cielo in 1998. According to its website, the firm has completed more than a dozen wind farm projects, most of them in Texas and two in New Mexico. The company recently began another wind farm outside Amarillo that will feature 87 GE wind turbines.
Brownsville is a promising site for a wind farm, though the project could meet an obstacle in the form of Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport’s plans to extend its runway, Hornaday said.
A longer runway would mean planes on approach would fly lower farther away from the airport, which could preclude construction of towering wind turbines.
It’s premature to say, though, since it all comes down to where Cielo wants to build versus how airspace is affected. Airport officials hope to extend the main runway from its current 7,400 feet to 10,000 feet or longer. An environmental review is still under way, though, and no funding has been allocated for the project yet.
“Obviously if you extend the runway there’s more airspace that’s going to be covered,” Director of Aviation Larry Brown said.
That said, it’s not yet clear to what extent changes in airspace would affect Cielo’s plans, he said.
“Until we know more details, we can’t answer the question,” Brown said. “It’s all going to be a function of math.”
He said Corpus Christi’s airport is dealing with airspace issues arising from wind farms located south and east of Sarita.
Hornaday said he hopes Cielo, if it does decide to move forward with a project at the port, can come to an arrangement with the airport amenable to all parties concerned.
“We’re trying to see what they will allow to be done,” he said. “It’s highly speculative at this point. It’s a great, windy area. The pieces are there. It’s a good wind resource and there’s a growing demand for electricity, but there are a lot of moving parts.”
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