The next Texas tea is clear: Wind power is new gusher
Jerry Patterson, TEXAS LAND COMMISSIONER
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Texas, the home to the world's first oil gusher at Spindletop, is on the brink of yet another energy boom.
Recently, I announced the first offshore lease for wind energy in U.S. history. According to the agreement, Galveston-Offshore Wind, LLC will pay the Texas General Land Office a minimum of $26.5 million over 30 years to develop what could be the first offshore wind farm in the United States.
News of this spread quickly worldwide because the world knows Texas understands energy. It's clear that Galveston-Offshore Wind's proposal to build a 150-megawatt wind farm — enough to power up to 40,000 homes — is no pie-in-the-sky idea. It's a detailed and executable business plan.
The people at Galveston-Offshore Wind, a division of Louisiana-based Wind Energy Systems Technology, have deep roots in oil and gas. Company President Herman Schellstede has spent a lifetime patenting and building offshore rigs. The business is in his blood; his father worked on the very first offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Texas General Land Office also has deep roots in oil and gas. At the Land Office, we've earned more than $9 billion since 1854 from oil and gas royalties. All of that money has been deposited in the state's Permanent School Fund.
The Texas oil and gas industry is a crucial part of our economy and will continue to be so in the years to come. But Texas needs to think long-term. Oil and gas revenue won't last forever.
Power created from wind is competitively priced. In fact, it's less than the market price of electricity in Texas over the past two years.
Land-based wind farms in Texas produce power at a fixed cost of about $28 per megawatt-hour. With no fuel costs, this price is relatively inflation-proof. And as turbine efficiency improves, this cost should fall.
By comparison, a high-efficiency, natural gas-fired power plant burning gas creates power that has a fuel-only cost of $51.52 per megawatt-hour. And with natural gas prices near historical highs, wind power looks even better.
There are hurdles along the way. The effect of wind farms on birds must be minimized. Environmental effects are something anyone leasing state land needs to address, and Galveston-Offshore Wind is no exception. As required by the Land Office, officials with the company have produced a report several inches thick on how they plan to address these concerns.
Sound economic principles are driving wind energy development in Texas.
The fact that wind energy is clean, reliable and inexhaustible is icing on the cake.
Take pride, because Texas is once again pioneering a new frontier.
Patterson, a Republican, is a former state senator, Marine lieutenant colonel and Vietnam veteran.