Wind Energy Projects Planned for the Panhandle

February 25, 2012 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

AMARILLO — It’s one of the fastest growing industries in the Panhandle, and Thursday, hundreds of executives, business owners, and farmers gathered at the Ambassador Hotel to learn more about wind energy projects being planned.

Seven different business owners talked about plans to build wind facilities in the region at Thursday’s Class 4 Winds meeting. Two of those projects will be starting in the next few months and will likely start generating power within the year,.

One is along eastern Potter County and Western Carson County next to the existing High Majestic Farm. That one will sell power to Southwestern Electric Power company (SWEPCO), which covers the southeastern Panhandle. The other wind farm project is in Oldham County. That power will go to Xcel customers. Xcel says an average of 10 percent of their power comes from wind energy, but on some days it’s as much as thirty percent.

“Most of the wind you see in this region is being used by Xcel Energy customers and our wholesale customers,” said Wes Reeves, Xcel Energy spokesman. “That’s part of our energy use. As we move into the future, we’re gonna have so much wind, it’s gonna have to go somewhere else.”

Reeves says that excess wind energy will go downstate to Dallas, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio, which all have high demand.

“Land owners will be paid, jobs will be created, county tax bases will also go up,” said A.J. Swope, executive director of Class 4 Winds.

Some groups, like Tri-Global Energy, are keeping the money in the community, with projects funded by both local land owners and residents, who say that money is especially beneficial after the record drought.

“We’re hearing regularly from farmers wondering five years out, how are they gonna be able to pay their property tax, how are they gonna be able to keep this property in the families?” said Dr. Bill Golove, Tri-Global Energy’s Chief Development Officer. “Participation in our projects is gonna generate enough revenue that they can keep their farms operating, keep the property in the family.”

Max Drum, a rancher from the Snyder area who is taking part in Tri-Global’s plan, agrees.

“In the traditional way, the amount of money that leaves the community is staggering,” said Drum. “This way, the money stays in our community and turns over many times.”

Officials did not have any estimated jobs or income numbers available.   
The federal Production Tax Credit for renewable energy is set to expire at the end of 2012, unless Congress extends it. Congressman Mac Thornberry’s website says he favors extending the PTC for the next ten years.

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