It??s no secret that the Panhandle is full of high winds. But what some may not know is those winds could be the key to growth in employment and revenue here in the Panhandle.
??I liken it to the oil boom that was 80-100 years ago. We??ve got the wind boom going on right now,?? said Steve Myers, executive director of Class 4 Winds & Renewables. ??Right now is probably the prime time for developers to come in and start looking and putting in wind farms. There are probably a dozen projects in the works right now,?? he said.
Over in Canyon, Texas, the Alternative Energy Institute of West Texas A&M has been able to utilize the recent high winds to showcase their data to potential wind farm developers. Ken Starcher, associate director of AEI, said that the wind speeds have been higher and strong than they have ever seen. Even the output has been much higher than researchers have seen in a long time.
??Think of it this way,?? said Starcher. ??We??ve been able to collect enough data to prove our winds are the optimal ones for wind turbine operation. Specifically the utility size ones, the big ones you would need to use on wind farms.??
These winds are called Class 4 winds, and due to their speed, strength and consistency, are prime for turbine production. Data that has been collected through A.E.I. has been a stepping stone in helping wind farm developments get put in faster and more economically. Wind in the Panhandle could be a good thing for residents and potentially bring job, tax base, and revenue for the landowners.
??Jobs for the people that want high-tech jobs for the people that want them, then there??s the tax base for everyone in the community, even independent of whether they have a wind turbine on their property and then actually landowners themselves get very substantial income from having these wind turbines take up space on their farms,?? said Starcher.
Experts say Texas leads the nation in wind power and that they??re beefing up potential for the whole state but most of it is going to be here in the Panhandle.