Texas Tech Wind Turbine Conference Set for June

Two-day conference will cover environmental and legal implications of wind farms.

Written by Sean Cleveland

[Editor’s Note: The website address for online registration for the conference is www.larc.ttu.edu/wind_conference]

The influences of wind power development on wildlife in Texas, along with the legal implications of locating wind farms specifically here in West Texas, highlight a two-day conference on the future of wind turbine farms at Texas Tech University.

The meeting, which will be held June 12-13 in the Lanier Auditorium of Texas Tech’s School of Law, is hosted by the university’s Department of Landscape Architecture, Department of Natural Resources Management and the School of Law.

Participants will examine a widely disparate range of issues facing the wind turbine industry in anticipation of what most experts expect to be its explosive growth over the next decade. Texas, in particular, has emerged as a significant potential site for the expansion of its already extensive wind power capacity.

In addition to examining the complex legal issues facing the industry, speakers also will address environmental impacts pertaining to animals, water and sound, and will consider the industry’s public administration and management implications.

Case Van Dam, a professor of mechanical and aeronautical engineering at the University of California, Davis and the director of the California Wind Energy Collaborative, will deliver the conference’s keynote presentation, Site Engineering for Wind Projects: A Californian Perspective, at a luncheon on June 12.

Van Dam’s current research focuses on wind power engineering, aerodynamic drag, high-lift aerodynamics and design, and active control of aerodynamic loads.

The conference’s remaining presentations on June 12 include:

  • · Michael Borshuk, Texas Tech University, Department of English, Cool Jazz, Western Literature, and Wind Power: A Metaphor for Energy
  • · Lucia Barbato, associate director, Center for Geospatial Technology, Water, Wind Mills and the Ogallala Aquifer
  • · Andy Swift, Director, Texas Tech University, Wind Sciences/Engineering Research Center, Wind Turbine Farm Trends 2009-2010
  • · Louis Mills, Texas Tech University, Department of Landscape Architecture, “Wind Farms, Scenic Management on the Coast – An Australian and Texan Viewpoint”
  • · Warren Ballard and Matt Butler, Texas Tech University, Department of Natural Resources Management, The Prairie Chicken Perspectives of Wind Farms
  • · Kathy Boydston, Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife, “Criteria for Project Review”
  • · Mike Slattery, Texas Christian University, Wind Research Project TCU/NEXTERA Energy; TCU-Oxford NEXTERA Energy Wind Research Initiative
  • · Clint Boal, Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Influences of Wind Power Development on Wildlife in Texas: Look Before You Leap
  • · Dwain Rogers, Renewable Energy Texas GLO, The GLO Response to Wind Farm Siting in West Texas
  • · Skelly Holmbeck, NEXTERA Energy (formerly Florida Power and Light), Wind Industry Perspectives of the Environmental Approval Process.
  • · Vickie Sutton, Texas Tech University, School of Law, Legal Implications of Wind Farm Siting in West Texas
  • · James Payne, Legal Aspects from Sweetwater, Texas
  • · Tom Longoria, Texas State University, Local Government Response to Wind Farms
  • · H. Alan Carmichael, with Wetsel and Carmichael, a Sweetwater-based law firm, Trends in Wind Energy Leases

The State Energy Conservation Office has reported that Texas is currently the U.S.’ top wind producer and is the first state to achieve the one gigawatt milestone generated by its wind installations in a single year. Furthermore, in addition to being the site of three of the five largest wind farms in the nation, officials at the American Wind Energy Association predict that two-thirds of the nation’s wind energy growth will occur in Texas.

Indeed, the state already holds the record for the world's largest wind farm, Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center, which spreads across approximately 47,000 acres in Taylor and Nolan counties near Abilene. Two other sites within two hundred miles of Lubbock figure prominently in the effort to harvest the region’s strong prevailing wind, as well.

Sweetwater, for example, has perhaps the greatest concentration of wind farm turbine projects in the world and pending wind farms financed by T. Boone Pickens in nearby Amarillo are expected to dwarf the state’s current capacity.

CONTACT: Louis Mills, Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2858 or louis.mills@ttu.edu.