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Windmills Powering Energy Needs in Texas

Sept. 5, 2002

Windmills Powering Energy Needs in Texas

Report Touts State Policies on Renewable Sources as Model for Nation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Wind power, a non-polluting renewable energy source long ignored by the nation’s utilities, is getting a major boost in Texas, where more than $1 billion was invested in the technology in 2001, according to a new report released today by Public Citizen and the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition.

“The winds of change are coming to the heart of oil country,” said Thomas “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office. “Because of state policies that encourage the development of alternative energy sources, we are seeing wind farms sprouting across the Texas plains, and that means cleaner air, less dependence on foreign oil sources and a shot in the arm to the state’s economy as well.”

According to the report, written by Virtus Energy Research Associates on behalf of Public Citizen and the SEED Coalition, the wind power that could be generated in Texas is enormous – more than 10 times greater than all electricity currently sold in the state. Just as Texas became a dominant player in oil production in the 20th century, it could become a global leader in the renewable energy field. The large wind installations in Texas are among the lowest cost sources of wind power in the world.

Smith said the development of wind power in the state was boosted by the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard created by the Texas Legislature in 1999. That law requires that 2,000 megawatts of electricity from renewable sources be added to the state by 2009. The report found that:

  • In 2001, Texas installed more wind power than the entire United States had ever installed in any previous year. Last year, utilities and wind companies invested $1 billion to build 912 megawatts of new capacity, bringing the state to a total wind power capacity of 1,100 megawatts. The goal of the 1999 law is 2,000 megawatts of new capacity by 2009.
  • Recently completed wind plants created 2,500 jobs with a payroll of $75 million. They will deliver $13.3 million in tax revenue for schools and counties, and will pay landowners $2.5 million in royalties in 2002 alone. Using a multiplier effect, this new investment activity is estimated to stimulate another 2,900 jobs in Texas.
  • By 2020, wind power in Texas alone could be responsible for 8,500 jobs with a payroll of $255 million, and could be generating $1.4 billion worth of electricity yearly.

“Wind power is bringing relief to parched economies in West Texas and creating manufacturing jobs throughout the state,” said Peter Altman, executive director of the SEED Coalition. “Local leaders recognize the opportunities and want to see more wind power.”

Among the recommendations in the report is the establishment of state and federal goals of generating 10 percent of electricity through the use of renewable sources by 2020. If Texas were to meet that goal, that would mean 13,400 megawatts of wind capacity would be needed. According to the report, that would represent a capital investment of $12.4 billion, would create 18,300 jobs and generate more than $215 annually in local taxes.

“Just as President Bush is promoting retrograde policies that promote more oil and gas production, which will only make our air dirtier and further solidify our dependence on the unstable world oil market, his home state is leading the nation in promoting this wonderful new, unlimited source of energy,” Smith said. “And it’s creating jobs at the same time.”

Click here to read the report.