Hale County is slated to become the site of the world’s largest wind farm, a recently formed energy partnership has announced.
Hale Community Energy says it plans to erect between 500 and 650 wind turbines on more than 122,000 acres within the next few years.
That pencils out to about 190 square miles. By comparison, Lubbock’s current city limits encompass about 124 square miles.
Four smaller wind-energy projects — Hale County Wind Farm, CottonWind Farms, Lakeview Wind Farms and East Mound Renewable Energy Project — together comprise the new, larger one. The project has the potential to generate 1,100 megawatts of renewable energy, according to Tri Global Energy, its parent company.
“All of our projects are quite large, and when we combine four of them, it’s definitely the largest at this point in time,” said Rhonda Dill, a spokeswoman for Tri Global Energy.
The new wind farm will be located in the southern portion of Hale County, between Abernathy and Petersburg and north to
Construction is scheduled for five phases, with the first set to be operational by late 2015. The entire project is anticipated for completion by mid-2018.
Curtis King, Tri Global’s senior vice president of investor relations, said construction will create temporary jobs, and operating the farm will bring about 100 permanent ones.
“These will be high-paying jobs,” he said in a news release. “It’s not something that will be around for just 10 years — wind farms will be a permanent fixture that will go on for several generations.”
Kevin Carter, executive director of the Hale County Industrial Foundation, said that because plans are still in their early stages, no incentive packages have yet been developed. He expressed enthusiasm for the farm, describing each turbine as an investment of $2 million to $3 million with area landowners as stakeholders.
“It’s going to be a tremendous increase as far as the amount of tax base to the area,” he said.
The total number of shareholders is more than 450, with more than 340 landowners, according to Tri Global.
Abernathy could see some revenue of its own from the project, according to City Manager Mike Cypert. Workers in town for the duration of construction will boost the local economy, he said, and permanent positions will benefit even further.
“If they’re creating long-term jobs, it’s really going to help us,” he said.
Carter similarly noted jobs the farm could bring to Plainview, whose economy has struggled since Cargill Meat Solutions’ closing Jan. 28 laid off nearly 10 percent of the town’s population. Unemployment is down slightly this month, he said, but at 12 percent still doubles the national average.
“We’re really excited,” Carter said. “It’s going to bring quite a few jobs to Plainview, and they’re going to be good jobs.”
The first phase of the wind farm is projected to interconnect with a national grid at the Briscoe County Substation, currently under construction by Sharyland Utilities. Developers anticipate this process helping deliver renewable energy to more urban areas.
“What’s making all of these projects foreseeable at this time are all the transmission lines built to take wind energy from West Texas,” Dill said. “Wind power has actually become cheaper than natural gas, and that’s why energy companies are entering into 10-to-20-year purchase agreements.”