Higher Power Energy LLC, based in Flower Mound, spent years securing leases and an interconnection agreement for a 300 megawatt wind farm in Castro County, southwest of Amarillo.
Now, Chicago-based Lincoln Renewable Energy will actually build the wind farm, which will have more than 100 General Electric turbines spread out over 35,000 acres.
The Hereford 2 project started construction before the end of the year so it will be eligible for the federal production tax credit.
“The start of construction of the Hereford 2 project marks the continuations of a very successful year for Lincoln Renewable Energy,” said Philip Moore, Lincoln’s vice president of development.
It will feed into the Sharyland Utilities Windmill substation where it will connect to new transmission lines that will carry it to major cities like Dallas-Fort Worth. These special utility lines are called Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ).
Oncor, an electric delivery company based in Dallas, built 1,000 miles of CREZ lines that carry electricity from far flung pastures in West Texas to metropolitan areas where it’s needed. Statewide, the project included 3,500 miles of new transmission lines.
“We are particularly pleased to see another CREZ-enabled project commence construction and congratulate the (Texas Public Utility Commission) and transmission providers on the continued success of CREZ in bringing low cost, clean energy to Texas customers and providing economic development in the wind-rich Texas panhandle,” Moore said.
Higher Power Energy worked since 2007 to secure leases from 48 landowners and conducted wind studies, which help determine the best placement for the turbines.
The wind industry is supported by the production tax credit, which offers 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour for qualifying projects built during a certain time frame. Congress last renewed it on Jan. 1, 2013 after weeks of uncertainty.
“Our industry still faces uncertainty in the medium and long term and needs Congress to address that next year,” Rob Gramlich, senior vice president of public policy for the American Wind Energy Association.”The legislative vehicle could be tax reform, an extenders package or something else, but ultimately our industry will begin to feel the impacts of uncertainty in 2014.”
Mark Patkunas, CEO of Higher Power Energy, said the wind industry expands and contracts based on whether the production tax credit is in place.
“It’s tough to operate in this market in the U.S. with the tax credit unfortunately coming and going all the time,”Patkunas said.
The billionaire Koch brothers are leading an industry-wide fight urging Congress not to renew the production tax credit for 2014.
“The wind industry has very little to show after 20 years of preferential tax treatment: it remains woefully dependent on this federal support. Yet despite this consistent underperformance, Congress has repeatedly voted to extend the PTC, usually in 1- or 2-year increments,” the group wrote in a letter to federal lawmakers. “This year, Congress should break from the past and allow the wind PTC to expire as scheduled, once and for all. Americans deserve energy solutions that can make it on their own in the marketplace—not ones that need to be propped up by government indefinitely.”
Governors from 11 states wrote a letter in support of the credit, including Kansas. But Texas Gov. Rick Perry was not on the list, though Texas produces by far the most wind of any state.
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