Land commissioner announces sustainable energy plan for Texas


AUSTIN, Texas, April 22, 2003 — Jerry Patterson, Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office, used the opportunity of Earth Day to announce his Plan for Sustainable Energy, a series of achievable, common sense proposals designed to increase the state’s production and use of sustainable energy while increasing revenue for local economies and public schools.

Texas is a national leader in the study and development of sustainable energy sources, Patterson said. This year alone, Texas will host six national conferences of sustainable energy trade associations and businesses.

“Sustainable energy sources such as wind power represent a vast, untapped source of energy and revenue for Texas,” said Patterson. “My plan, as well as the sustainable energy events in Texas this year, clearly show that we are leading the nation on this issue. Once again, Texas is pioneering a new frontier.”

In 1995, the General Land Office helped develop the state’s first and one of the nation’s largest commercial wind energy facilities. Built on state lands on the Delaware Mountains in West Texas, the project generates enough electricity to power 2,000 to 2,500 homes and has contributed more than $600,000 in royalty payments to the state’s Permanent School Fund.

“Wind power projects benefit the environment and can provide a renewable source of revenue for school children in Texas,” said Patterson. “With sustainable energy, everybody wins.”

But projects such as the Delaware Mountains wind farm are facing hurdles in getting their clean energy to the customers. There simply aren’t enough power lines in West Texas to move the electricity they create to the state’s power grid. This lack of transmission capability hampers the growth of new wind farms and prevents existing facilities from producing energy at maximum capacity. Patterson envisions his plan will help address these challenges.

Patterson also highlighted a series of conferences to be held in Texas this year hosted by sustainable energy trade association groups and businesses from across the country. Among these meetings will be the national meetings of the Wind Energy Association, the Solar Energy Society and the National Association of State Energy Officials. The General Land Office’s Tenth Annual Border Energy Forum will be held October 23-24.

Joining Patterson at the Earth Day press conference were Mayor of Austin Gus Garcia, Tom “Smitty” Smith with Public Citizen, Fred Richardson, Sierra Club and the following members of the Texas Sustainable Energy Network: Walter Hornaday, President of Cielo Wind Power; Joe Beal, LCRA General Manager; Russell Smith, Texas Renewable Energy Industries Association; Roger Duncan, Vice President of Austin Energy and Conference Chair for Solar 2003; and Richard Amato, Director of the University of Texas’ Clean Energy Incubator.

“We’re excited Commissioner Patterson is taking steps to develop the enormous potential of renewable energy on state lands,” said Smith, Texas Director of Public Citizen, a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded by Ralph Nader in 1971. “His leadership on wind energy, and his ongoing commitment to a successful Greenbuilding program under way at the Land Office, is important in educating Texans about the value of sustainable energy. I look forward to working together on ways to make clean energy more available, more efficient and more popular.”

The Patterson Plan for Sustainable Energy

“- Creates an innovative State Green Power Program: This new program allows cities, state agencies and schools to buy sustainable energy created on state lands at competitive rates. Status: Will begin this year.

“- Use wind mapping data to facilitate commercial wind energy development on state lands: The GLO is nearing the end of a two-year effort to find state lands with maximum wind energy potential. This is the data wind energy developers need before locating facilities in Texas. Status: Will issue a bid for a new commercial wind energy facility on state lands this year

“- Create incentives for construction of new power transmission lines needed for wind energy development in West Texas. Patterson will reduce or waive easement fees for companies building transmission lines over state lands and supports pending legislation to eliminate barriers to new construction. Status: Minor legislative language change needed to adjust easement fees has been filed and is on track to pass this session.

More information on the strategy is available at this web address: http://www.glo.state.tx.us/energy/sustain/

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