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The Power of Wind in Oil and Gas Country

The Power of Wind in Oil and Gas Country

Date: 4/14/2008

Source: Stacia Cudd, National Association of Farm Broadcasting News Service

Audio with Travis Brown, Renewable Energy Community Service Specialist at the Texas Office of Rural Community Affairs (MP3 2.2 MB) Download Windows Media Player. Time: 00:02:19.

In 2001, the Texas Legislature created the Office of Rural Community Affairs. The state agency works to strengthen rural communities and assist them with community and economic development. Since 2002, the agency has awarded thousands of grants to help rural communities and counties with their community and economic development needs.

With that in mind, Renewable Energy Community Service Specialist Travis Brown says it's easy to understand why the office is interested in wind energy development.

"Texas is now the biggest wind producing state in the country by far. And you can see the evidence on the ground in west Texas and the panhandle on how big wind farms have really helped rural communities improve quality of life."

Brown says wind brings a variety of benefits to rural Texas communities.

"Number one is new, good quality jobs that enables young people to stay in their communities. Wind power, having the wind farms, they need those turbines maintained and there's a lot of other related jobs tied into that."

In addition to jobs, Brown says wind energy generates new tax revenues for schools. In fact, he says a typical 1.5-megawatt wind turbine generates about $10,000 in new tax revenues each year.

"There's a little town called Trent, just west of Abilene, Texas, and if you're driving along the Interstate, one of those places if you blink you'll miss it. But one thing you will see there is a brand new school building. And it's really interesting because behind the school building there's a mesa, and along that mesa is a line of wind turbines and the tax revenues from those wind turbines is what built that new school."

But will wind become as big an economic driver in rural Texas as oil and gas? According to Brown, it's already happening to some extent.

"Out in the town of McCamey, out in far west Texas, used to be oil and gas basically and has suffered as that industry has declined out there. They've been known for a long time as the wind capital of the U.S. and that's their claim to fame as opposed to oil and gas. It's going to be a long time though, I mean, you know, oil and gas still is the big driver of the Texas economy and will be for a long time."

There's now more than 4,000 megawatts of wind energy installed in Texas and another 12-hundred megawatts is currently under construction.

This information was last updated on April 14, 2008