Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lines Go Up to Ferry Wind Energy to Major Cities
Enormous transmission towers stand beside a West Texas country road, waiting for electric wires to be strung through them.
The rush to build transmission lines is part of Texas’ efforts to promote wind power, which provides 8 percent of the state grid’s electricity. Across the state, thousands of miles of wires are being strung at a cost that has soared to an estimated $6.8 billion. The main purpose is to ferry wind energy from remote areas ... to major cities like Dallas and Fort Worth. Texas leads the nation in wind production, and the lines are intended to nearly double the state’s wind capacity.

The build-out, which Texans will pay for in future electric bill increases projected at about $5 a month per customer for years, has been contentious. Some Texas landowners have fought to prevent the lines from crossing their property, even though they receive a one-time payment for hosting them.

Travis Besier, ... said that payments for an easement could range from around $3,000 to $10,000 or more an acre, depending on factors like the property’s proximity to a large city.  In some cases, ... Oncor has needed eminent domain proceedings, in which the utility can take the land if negotiations with the landowner fail.

For [local] businesses ... the construction has brought a boom.
All lines are supposed to be completed by the end of 2013. Work is going smoothly, builders say, though there are hitches. Workers must always beware of rattlesnakes and bad weather, including high winds....
Because of the drought and tighter water restrictions, [a contractor]... had trouble getting enough water....

... The completion of the lines, ... should spur more activity in West Texas, ... currently some turbines must stop spinning at windy times because there are not enough wires to carry out the power.
by Kate Galbraith
The New York Times
October 21, 2011

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