In fact, someone who produces an online newsletter that focuses on wind projects contacted Gary Robinett, director of marketing and industrial recruitment for the Abilene Industrial Foundation, Inc., this week. Robinett said the caller asked him whether he could tell him more about the exact location of the planned $1.5 billion project, which would be one of the first Chinese-American wind energy ventures and would produce enough electricity to power 180,000 homes in the U.S. The caller had heard the 36,000-acre wind project would be in Abilene.
However, Robinett said he hasn’t heard anything that would indicate the project will be in Abilene. “I guess someone associated West Texas with Abilene,” he said. He added that he and other Abilene leaders have speculated the project would be in the Panhandle. He noted that it would be nice if it were built in Taylor County.
The companies involved are Cielo Wind Power, based in Austin, U.S. Renewable Energy Group out of Washington, D.C., and China-based A-Power Energy Generations Systems Ltd., a subsidiary of Shenyang Power Group. In December, they announced they would develop a 600-megawatt wind farm in West Texas, and a signing ceremony was held in Washington, D.C.
Greg Wortham, the director of the West Texas Wind Consortium, based in Sweetwater, said he had not heard where the wind farm would be, but said he doesn’t think Taylor County would have the space for such a project. His educated guess was McCamey, Texas, near Fort Stockton. He said the town has big projects planned and the space for it.
Cielo Wind Power has an office in McCamey. The office could not be reached by phone, and the McCamey Chamber of Commerce did not have any information on the project. Fort Stockton Economic Development officials could not be reached for comment, either.
Cielo Wind Power in Austin said there has been no announcement as to the exact location. The company simply confirmed that it would be in West Texas.
Wortham said the reason the project has received so much attention is because of the Chinese connection, and the fact that it was first announced in Washington at a news conference. He said there are many other projects planned for Texas at this time, up to a capacity of 50,000 megawatts of power if all are built.
Four projects are now proposed for Nolan, Mitchell, Scurry and Fisher Counties, which will be expansions of current projects. The expansion of transmission lines will help these projects move along, according to Wortham.
“This is a moderate-sized project,” Wortham said, referring to the Chinese-American project. However, 600 megawatts of power is still a drop in the bucket in West Texas, which already produces 8,500 megawatts of the approximate 9,500 total in Texas.
The Chinese wind manufacturer A-Power Energy Generation Systems Ltd. is set to begin shipping the 2.5-megawatt turbines in March. The turbines were built in Shenyang, China, which adds to project’s uniqueness.