By Kevin Welchmailto:Welchkevin.firstname.lastname@example.org
Shell WindEnergy and Luminant, a subsidiary of TXU, announced an agreement to build 3,000 megawatts of wind generation in Briscoe County. The plan would top the world's largest wind farm near Abilene, which produces 735 megawatts.
"People love it in Briscoe County," said Jerry Leatherman, managing director of ACE Renewables, which has contracted with Shell to help develop the project. "It is typical of rural areas of the Panhandle where the water table has declined (reducing irrigation) and other things have drawn people away. It's been shrinking."
The impact could be substantial.
Employment will increase, both for construction and during normal operations.
"It'll give a big bump during construction," said Mark Wilby, senior business development manager for Shell. "And after construction, on a project of 85 to 90 turbines, usually there are two to three full-time jobs and another four or five for maintenance. Conceivably this could be 1,500 turbines is one estimate."
"It's been very interesting leasing rights," Leatherman said. "There has been a great deal of competition. I'd say eight different developers have been in here and left. It's been a challenge."
Nobody wanted to talk about project costs, number of acres leased or exact locations. However, the plan is to build the wind farm on top of the Caprock in the southeast sector of the county.
"It's not only on the rim or edge of the Cap, the wind is very good as you approach the rim for several miles," Leatherman said.
Everywhere that I drive I see wind generators -- either generating electricity or parts on a truck headed down the highway. This part of the world is fast becoming the Wind Power Generation Capitol of the World.