Wind Energy in Texas Gets $10 Billion Boost

Texas Governor Rick Perry announced a major public-private initiative this week that could increase wind-generated energy in the Lone Star State by approximately 7,000 megawatts. Eight companies have committed to invest a combined $10 billion-plus in new wind projects — as long as the state’s Public Utility Commission constructs the necessary transmission lines.

According to Phil Wilson, Deputy Chief of Staff at Governor Perry’s office, construction of the lines will cost an estimated several hundred million dollars over a five to seven year period. The Governor’s office is optimistic that the PUC will be able to carry out the project, said Wilson, noting the initial $10 billion investment capitol could go higher as more companies join the initiative. Companies that have already committed to invest include Airtricity, $3 billion; AES Wind Generation, $1 billion; Babcock & Brown, LP, $1.5 billion; Horizon Wind Energy, $1.5 billion; PPM Energy, $1 billion; Renewable Energy Systems, $500 million; Florida Power & Light Company, $ 1.5 billion; and Gamesa Energy, $1 billion. “Airtricity is an international wind company active in many different markets and we have made a commitment to Texas because it has a great regulatory climate and an outstanding wind resource,” said Andrew Bowman, Senior Vice President of Airtricity, Inc. “If Texas will make the infrastructure investments necessary to keep the wind industry vibrant, we intend to invest more than three billion dollars in Texas over the next seven years.” Texas, which has abundant wind energy, particularly in West Texas and along the gulf cost, surpassed California as the nation’s leader in wind generation capacity earlier this summer. “Over the past three years we have added 650,000 jobs, transformed a record budget deficit into a record budget surplus, and attracted more business expansions and relocations than any state in the nation,” Perry said during a press conference on Oct. 2nd. “With this $10 billion announcement, the economic ripple will be more like a tidal wave as these companies pour millions of dollars into wages and salaries for Texas workers.” The planned expansion of wind-generated energy builds on initiatives Perry developed in 2003 with the creation of the Texas Energy Planning Council. The council was charged with developing a long-term energy plan for the state, including exploring alternative and renewable sources of energy. The council’s report, issued in December 2004, recommended that by 2025, 10 percent of the state’s power needs come from renewable sources and that the PUC takes steps to overcome transmission obstacles that limit the development of renewable energy sources. “I am proud of our state’s commitment to renewable energy production,” Perry said. “We are on the leading edge of developing renewable sources of energy and a more diversified energy economy which is key to keeping costs down.”
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