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      Wind energy -- a breath of fresh air for Panhandle economy

      "It is coming", said Class 4 Winds and Renewable's Executive Director, AJ Swope as he described the booming wind industry.

      He says, there's no slowing it down.

      The wind energy industry has found a home in Texas and that's great news for the Panhandle.

      "Wind energy is going to be huge for our economy. We've already seen the effect of that. More jobs will be created and not just jobs, they're great jobs with good benefits and good pay with skilled laborers", said Swope.

      Big players in the wind industry, like Class 4 Winds and Renewables, met Thursday to talk about its future.

      "It's really and truly an incredible resource and because of that, there's some transmission lines being built that will export our wind to other parts of the nation and other parts of the state. The amount of wind farms that we'll see pop up over the next three years will be pretty unbelievable", added Swope.

      With a growing industry, we'll also need a growing skilled workforce. That's where Amarillo College's Renewable Energy Program for Wind and Solar Energy comes in.

      Technicians are going to be needed by the thousands and thousands to install and troubleshoot and repair either wind turbines or solar panels or solar technology. We know that's the future", said A C 's Renewable Energy Program Director, Art Schneider.

      With new transmission lines in the works, the wind industry is about to get even bigger and solar energy isn't far behind.

      "Wind is big but solar is coming as the next big thing for all of the southwestern region", added Schneider.

      Either way, it's clear -- residents of the Panhandle live in a prime location.

      "Adding more renewable energy to our economy is just one more diversification and one more reason this is pretty cool place to live", said Swope.

      S wo p e also told us that over the next few years of development , the Panhandle could see an additional 5500 megawatts of wind energy created by new wind farms.