Don Quixote beware, West Texans are erecting giant wind farms as quickly as they can. In order to move the electricity that is being generated, more than $4.9 billion is being spent on an ambitious plan to set up transmission lines to carry the wind power generated to surrounding urban areas.
The newly installed lines will be able to handle 18,000 MW, currently more than three time the amount of power currently being generated through existing wind farms. The new capacity will provide the infrastructure to greatly increase the number of windmills, and get that energy to customers who are located far from the actual power production. The Public Utility Commission will pay for the expansion with a $3-$4 surcharge on customer’s existing electric bill.
Texas estimates that they could produce over 500,000 MW solely on wind power. That type of capacity would equal almost 5 times Texas’s current electrical usage. If all goes as planned, the excess capacity could be sold off to other neighboring states, or even into Mexico. New windmills are being installed at a rapid rate, and has more than tripled in the last three years.
Boone Pickens is driving the charge in Texas, as the former oil man is investing over $10 Billion in the Mother of all Wind Farms. He recently claimed, “”I have the same feelings about wind, as I had about the best oil field I ever found.” This new wind farm would consist of over 2,00 turbines spread across 200,000 acres, and would have a capacity of between 2-4,000 MegaWatts.
The quaint windmills of Don Quixote’s time are now being replaced by giant turbines that stand as high as 20-story buildings. Although Sancho’s cry of warning would now be best heeded by the local birds and bats. However, the National Research Council, the research arm of the Academy of Sciences, recently has reported that wind turbines barely have any effect on bird populations. They claim very small numbers of deaths, but have warned that bats may be more at risk. Apparently these animals seem to be attracted to the windmills, although the reason why is unknown.
Once this project is completed, Texas will become the largest generator of clean, renewable, wind power. Not only will this project create thousands of new jobs here in the US, it will also be used as an example of what can be accomplished in a short time frame. It may take Texans a little time to get used to wind mills out in the field instead of oil wells, but this is great for Texas and for the US.
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