Investors, Texas Tech Commit $40 M to Renewable Energy Studies

A group of Texas business leaders have secured the necessary development funding to begin Phase 1 of a planned $10 billion renewable energy project in West Texas.

The investors in Republic Power Partners, LP, in their partnership with the West Texas Municipal Power Agency (WTMPA) cities of Lubbock, Brownfield, Floydada and Tulia, and Texas Tech University have committed $40 million to conduct necessary feasibility studies for the 4,000-6,000 megawatt project. The project is expected to generate electrical power from multiple resources such as wind, solar, biomass, natural gas and clean coal. It is believed to be the largest public-private partnership of its kind in the United States.

The Phase 1 analyses will assess the transmission systems required for a balanced, consistent source of electricity to the WMTPA communities as well as to provide the required environmental, preliminary engineering and design work.

"The High Plains is quickly becoming a world leader in adopting diversified energy programs that address the energy, environmental and economic challenges facing cities across West Texas and the Lone Star State," said Republic Power Partners President and Manager John Crew. "With this adequate funding, we now have the ability to aggressively develop a broad portfolio of generation to help our partner cities directly meet these challenges."

A special purpose entity, known as the High Plains Diversified Energy Corp. (HPDEC), has been formed by the WTMPA to operate the project. HPDEC hopes to sell any surplus electricity generated to new customers in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which controls 85 percent of the state's electric power load. Meanwhile, Texas Tech University will supply expertise and guidance to the project through its Wind Science and Engineering Research Center. As compensation, the university will share in the net revenues from the project.

According to HPDEC Chair Scott Collier, construction of energy generation and transmission lines will be financed by revenue bonds. The debt associated with those bonds will be repaid with revenue generated by the project. Neither WTMPA ratepayers nor taxpayers will be responsible for any construction or operational costs.

"West Texas citizens deserve to be excited and we hope they remain supportive and patient as the project moves full steam ahead," Collier said.

Lubbock businessman David Alderson, who begin working on the initiative two years ago as a West Texas economic development official and currently serves on Republic Power's board of directors, said the project is expected to create thousands of construction and maintenance jobs and will help establish the High Plains of Texas as a world leader in the production of diversified energy technologies.

"Wind energy is becoming a powerful source of green jobs in West Texas. With this project, other diversified energy technologies will generate an even more powerful source of employment for West Texans in the near future," Alderson said.

The feasibility studies will determine the actual timeline for completion of the various phases of the project. Electricity could be generated as early as 2012.

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