Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Getting ready to plug and play

Now there's a plan, kind of, that puts dates to the completion of transmission lines for wind power in the Panhandle.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas has submitted to the Public Utilities Commission proposed construction completion dates.

Here comes the alphabet soup.

ERCOT's plan is based on the PUC's goal of having all the lines to make the wind farms in Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) hooked up and pumping power to Dallas and such by the end of 2013.

The first line in the Panhandle will come up from the south through Briscoe, Swisher and Castro counties to Randall County by Sept. 30, 2012. One problem, it won't get hooked to the grid until Dec. 31, 2012. Next comes the line through Childress to Donley, Gray and Carson counties, across the Palo Duro Canyon (that should be fun) in Armstrong County to Randall County. That is supposed to happen by March 31, 2013.

Those plans will give access to large wind farms planned by Shell (Briscoe County), E.ON (Carson and Gray) and Mesa (Gray and Roberts) and a too many smaller outfits to count. Besides, these wind companies are pretty secretive about their operations, with their landmen trying to sign up landowners to contracts that promise the signer's torture and perhaps more if they disclose any terms.

Then there's the newest entry. A Danish outfit and a Norwegian one are teaming with a Parmer County company to tempt more than 200 landowners to sign up about 204,000 acres for a wind farm that is bigger than any of the others. Right now they think they can do 3,000 megawatts, but the goal is 5,000 megawatts. That's enough for 1.75 million average homes.

Then there's the rubs. The developers will have to find a sugar daddy to pay for it all, and there's no transmission planned in the area. But Jim Swafford, CEO of Scandia Wind Southwest, the Parmer County company, says if they build it big enough, the transmission will follow.

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