Friday, July 18, 2008
AUSTIN, July 17 -- Texas, headquarters of America's oil industry, is about to stake a fortune on wind power.
In what experts say is the biggest investment in the clean and renewable energy in U.S. history, utility officials gave preliminary approval Thursday to a $4.9 billion plan to build new transmission lines to carry wind-generated electricity from West Texas to urban areas such as Dallas.
"People think about oil wells and football in Texas, but in 10 years, they'll look back and say this was a brilliant thing to do," said Patrick Woodson, vice president of E.On Climate & Renewables North America, which has about 1,200 megawatts of wind projects already in use or planned in Texas.
Texas is the national leader in wind power, generating about 5,000 megawatts. But wind-energy advocates say the lack of transmission lines has kept a lot of that power from being put to use and has hindered the building of more turbines.
Most of Texas's wind-energy production is in petroleum-producing West Texas, where nearly 4,000 wind turbines tower over oil pump jacks. The new plan would not build a slew of new turbines but would add transmission lines capable of moving about 18,000 megawatts.