By the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Editorial Board:
Lines of wind turbines turning in the breeze have become an increasingly familiar sight in the South Plains and the panhandle of Texas. That’s good news for several reasons:
First, those blades that turn steadily are helping to produce electricity. Texas has long been famous for its oil and gas production, and the growing wind industry here adds significantly to the Lone Star State’s production of energy.
Second, wind energy production is a huge source of economic development in Texas. Jeff Clark, executive director of the Wind Coalition recently said Texas has more than $30 billion in wind farm investments.
About 40 businesses and 30,000 construction jobs in 57 West Texas counties have been created since 2001, according to data collected from the Public Citizen Texas Office.
And additional jobs are required to operate and maintain the wind turbines.
Third, generation of electricity from the wind is a renewable source of energy that basically turns the relentlessly blowing West Texas wind into money.
Its a cleaner source of energy than fossil fuels that must be burned, and every megawatt of electricity produced from wind extends Texas’s supply of oil and natural gas by requiring less of those commodities to be taken from the ground.
The wind industry has been a significant addition to the traditional West Texas economic staples of agriculture, ranching and oil and gas production.
In 2015, Texas produced 10 percent of its in-state electricity from wind, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
That added Texas to an exclusive list of ten other states — Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Idaho, Vermont, Colorado, Oregon and Maine — that produce a tenth or more of their electricity from the wind.
Texas is 11th on the list of the 11 states, but it is by far the largest state in terms of population and of geographical area to be there.
The American Wind Association predicts wind energy will produce 37 percent of Texas’ in-state generation of electricity by the year 2030.
If the estimate of more than one-third of Texas’ electricity coming from the wind sounds high, consider Iowa, which already is generating 31.3 percent of its electricity through wind production.
Texas Tech is an important source of wind research for the entire nation. The university offers a bachelor of science degree in wind energy and a doctorate degree in wind science and engineering.
Another important contribution from the Lubbock area to wind research is the Reese Technology Center, which has the first private wind turbine research site in the nation.
“Reese is the Hub where public and private investment in public research come together in the wind industry,” Bill Miller, Reese Technology executive director, recently told A-J Media.
The wind industry is important to America’s energy future, and West Texas is at the forefront of it. It’s exciting to live in one of the most important places in the nation for the wind industry.