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SA wind energy company slates new projects for 2020

San Antonio Business Journal | December 30, 2019
Steven Santana

Rangel Renewables has three new wind projects slated for South and North Texas as it heads into the new year.

Its first and current project is construction of the Vestas 136 3.5 megawatt turbines — one of the largest turbines in production — the company announced in a news release on Dec. 27. Aaron Aguirre, a spokesperson with Rangel Renewables said this project, being built in South Texas, will take the company into 2020 followed closely by two other projects. 

Aguirre said he could only disclose few details on the two 2020 projects, saying that they will involve construction of more wind turbines with other manufacturers in South and North Texas. 

“Overall, between the three projects, we will be responsible for erecting over 100 turbines here in Texas before moving on to our summer projects slated for the Northern region of the U.S.,” Aguirre said in a statement.

The company’s over 100 turbines will produce over 290 megawatts, which is the equivalent to powering around 188,500 homes.

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WINDS OF CHANGE Company says survey shows residents favor wind farm

Beeville Bee-Picayune | Jason Collins
December 27, 2019

BEEVILLE – Officials with the wind farm proposed primarily near Pawnee say it will generate millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Eric Barnett, with then Lincoln Clean Energy but now Orsted after the company’s purchase, said that the 250-megawatt wind farm is taking shape with 11,000 acres under lease.

“We are focusing our efforts on continuing to lease land,” he told commissioners during their meeting Dec. 9.

The company intends not only to ask the county for a tax abatement, or reduction in the taxes property owners pay but also the school boards in Pawnee and Pettus.

Barnett said he would be in Pawnee at its school trustee meeting in January and in Pettus later that year.

The delay for Pettus is to allow time to lease more property in that community.

Commissioners are expected to discuss not just a traditional tax abatement but what is called a payment in lieu of taxes agreement.

This is different in design than an abatement as the money generated is considered contractual revenue so it is not part of the tax roll. Goliad County commissioners recently reached an agreement with a solar farm company in their county.

Leasing for the project  in Bee County began earlier this year and was initially met with some resistance.

“We have had some landowners we had a hard time getting in contact with come to us and want to talk about a lease,” Barnett said.

In a statement to the newspaper, Orsted said that Bee County, Pettus and Pawnee ISDs and Coastal Bend College stand to receive tens of millions in new tax revenue during the project’s 30-year life.

Matthew Crosby, director of policy with the company, said, “I think, as you know, our business model is to be a long-term owner of the project. 

“And for that reason we want to continue to partner here.

“When we initially approached the Helena Project, we saw some comments in the summertime where there may have been some concern about the level of support for additional wind turbines in Bee County.

“So it’s part of my job to make sure that we’re on solid ground when we approach constituents in the county.”

The company conducted a survey saying its employees called 5,000 people within Bee County asking their opinion about the project. Of those, 25 percent of households responded. 

In a county with a population of 32,563, the survey included responses from 1,250 residents, or about 3 percent of the population. 

In response to questions about the survey, Crosby said, “Earlier this fall, we issued a survey to over 5,000 registered voters across all of Bee County with a landline or mobile phone. 

“We were able to break out responses by precinct.”

Crosby told commissioners that those in Precinct 2, where this project is located, are “still forming opinions. I think the majority didn’t respond or they didn’t have an opinion.

“But of those that did, there was pretty strong support. 

“We actually found that of those that responded (in precincts 1 and 2), two to one support the project to generate property tax revenue to enhance county services.

“And, in particular, I think a lot of folks, when we asked an open-ended question, talked about the value that would bring to the school district.”

Crosby said that Precinct 1 residents supported the project while those in precincts 3 and 4, showed “similar levels of support but a little more were opposed.

“I think the survey demonstrates that this is an opportunity not only to generate millions in new tax revenue that supports accounting services, school services and jobs, but it’s also something that the addition of sporting landowners can actually be something that we can show with this data that people actually get behind.”

Crosby later added, “Precincts 1 and 2 are important because while we are still working with prospective landowners, the project will be located entirely in those two precincts.”

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El Paso Electric moves toward cleaner generation through solar, battery storage

Daily Energy Insider | Chris Galford
December 23, 2019

Looking for new ways to meet the future demands of the summer 2022-2023 season, El Paso Electric (EPE) has announced a long-term energy supply resource plan based on expanded solar energy, its first utility-scale battery storage effort and a new natural gas fired unit.

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Since 2017, EPE has known that around 50 MW of additional capacity would be needed by 2022, and 320 MW by 2023, if they were to meet growing customer demands. Meeting that need will now take the form of power purchased from three long term power agreements and the new gas-fired generation unit. The agreements draw in 200 MW of power from yet to be constructed solar facilities in New Mexico, as well as 100 MW from battery storage facilities to be built in New Mexico and Texas. The two 50 MW battery storage projects represent EPE’s first utility-scale forays into storage.

“Over the last year, we have continued seeing growth in our region and have added approximately 7,000 customers,” Adrian Rodriguez, EPE’s Interim CEO, said. “Additionally, because of falling renewable energy prices, and changing customer expectations on how they receive their energy, we are able to offer more sustainable solutions. Today’s announcement further underscores our responsibility to both increase and enhance our power generation capability while simultaneously meeting our regional customers changing needs in a safe, clean, reliable, and cost-effective manner.”

Beyond the renewable efforts, 228 MW will be ready for EPE’s customers from the new gas-fired generation unit to be built at the existing Newman Power Plant site.

The renewable projects will be handled by Hecate Energy, NextEra Energy Resources, and Ørsted Onshore will manage the development of the new renewable sites. The solar facilities should be online — pending approval — by May 2022, with the Texan stand-alone battery storage facility and gas generation unit to follow by summer 2023. All told, these efforts will nearly triple EPE’s renewable energy portfolio. 

“Our ability to grow our renewable energy portfolio with additional solar is maximized with the addition of battery storage capability,” Rodriguez said. “By being able to introduce large-scale battery storage into our region, we will, for the first time ever, be able to harness the power of the sun from our solar facilities and utilize that energy at night and during cloudy days.”

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40 Austin-area schools will receive grants for sustainability projects

KVUE ABC |Britny Eubank
December 17, 2019

AUSTIN, Texas — Thousands of Austin-area students are about to get some hands-on experience learning about sustainability.

The City of Austin‘s Office of Sustainability announced Tuesday that 40 area K-12 schools will receive Bright Green Future Grants to start 46 sustainability projects that are expected to benefit over 20,000 students. According to the City, these projects will offer hands-on learning opportunities, help school campuses become “greener” and provide benefits to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Projects were selected from every Austin City Council district and represent schools in Austin ISDDel Valle ISD and Round Rock ISD, as well as several private schools. The City said nearly a quarter of the schools receiving funding are Title 1 schools with a large percentage of low-income students.

“Now in its 8th year, the Bright Green Future Grants program has funded nearly 400 projects that have made local schools, and the community as a whole, a little greener,” Chief Sustainability Officer Lucia Athens said. “These teachers and students continue to inspire me with their efforts to make sustainability something tangible. They are hard at work planting, biking, conserving and preserving to ensure our bright, green future.”

The grants will fund a variety of different sustainability projects. Here’s a breakdown:

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