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Company’s promise to provide wind energy raises hopes, eyebrows among city leaders

Lubbock Power & Light is looking toward 2019 with hopes of increasing the amount of renewable wind energy in its portfolio, and power from what is expected to be the world’s largest wind farm could be part of that effort – though some overseeing the municipal utility are questioning the Hale County project.

Members of the Electric Utility Board received form letters earlier this month from Tri-Global Energy, the company backing the massive wind farm, asking the municipally owned utility to “utilize clean, renewable wind energy that is being, and will continue to be, locally produced.”

Though the letter never mentioned a potential contract between LP&L and Tri-Global, board member Suzanne Blake recused herself from any vote pertaining to it to avoid a conflict of interest.

Blake, along with her husband who is employed by the wind farm owner, is a stockholder in the company.

“My desire is to do what is right for LP&L and the community,” the letter said. “I will not be involved in any decision making with regard to Tri-Global Energy as it would be inappropriate.”

Hale Community Energy, the Tri-Global subsidiary over the proposed wind farm, was formed by the merging of Hale County Wind Farm, CottonWind Farms, Lakeview Wind Farms and East Mound Renewable Energy Project. It has some turbines in place, but is not connected to a power grid, according to the company’s website.

It is not expected to be commercially operational until 2015, but the fate of the project is based on finances, Blake said. As an investor, she is concerned.

“I mean, it’s not something I think about every day, but I’d like to see it happen,” she said.

In September, the company announced plans to erect between 500 and 650 wind turbines on more than 122,000 acres in the next few years and signed on to have turbine parts shipped in by rail to the Hale County facility earlier this month, according to a report by the Amarillo Globe-News.

With 1,100 megawatts of power promised to be produced, EUB member Clayton Isom said more questions need to be answered before even considering tying LP&L to it.

“The size and scope and sheer magnitude of what Tri-Global has planned is enormous,” he said. “So, when you are talking about the world’s largest anything in Lubbock, Texas, not only does that justify a whole lot of attention but it also justifies questions.”

Putting it into perspective, the entire city of Lubbock’s electricity consumption is less than what Tri-Global anticipates that wind farm to produce, Isom said.

“Now, in the natural life cycle of things like this, it is reasonable and justified that those who are involved are now coming around and asking, ‘How do you execute that? How do you capitalize something that’s a $5 billion business plan in Lubbock, Texas?’ That, I think is the big question,” he said.

Neither representatives of Tri-Global Energy nor Hale Community Energy responded to A-J Media interview requests.

Though LP&L has plans to incorporate more renewable energy into the 2019 power plan, there have been no conversations about connecting with the Tri-Global project, according to LP&L spokesman Matt Rose.

“We do not currently have any business related to Tri-Global or their proposed wind farm,” he said.