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Economic Development: McCamey Story

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  • Tom Gray
    From: Finzel, Ben Subject: another McCamey/wind story Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2003 08:20:32 -0500 McCamey, Texas, Finds Economic Boost Blown
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 7 10:58 AM
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      From: "Finzel, Ben" <finzelb@...>
      Subject: another McCamey/wind story
      Date: Mon, 7 Jul 2003 08:20:32 -0500


      McCamey, Texas, Finds Economic Boost Blown in By Wind Turbines

      By Julie Breaux, Odessa American, Texas -- July 6

      When the dust starts flying in McCamey, Mayor Sherry Phillips sees dollars
      not dirt.

      When the wind kicks up, the 214 wind turbines at the nearby King Mountain
      Wind Farm generate hundreds of thousands of kilowatts of electricity that's
      snapped up by utilities serving Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin.

      McCamey, once in danger of drying up and blowing away because of the
      decline in oil and gas revenues, has become a vital link in the
      transmission of electricity to Texas' most crowded cities.

      The change in the status of this small oil town pleases Phillips mightily.

      "This is our newest industry since 1925, when oil came in," she said. "It
      doesn't require water, and that's good because we don't have that in
      excess. But we do have a lot of air, and if the wind doesn't blow, we can
      get everyone to talk."

      What they're talking about in the towns located closest to the six wind
      farms in Upton, Pecos and Crockett counties are the direct and indirect
      benefits of being a hub of wind energy.

      The land where the wind farms are located have been used for grazing. So,
      the multi-million improvements have created new revenue streams for the
      school districts in Pecos and Upton counties, in particular.

      The three wind farms in Pecos County have an appraised value of $287
      million and paid $4.7 million in school taxes last year.

      In Upton County, the King Mountain and Southwest Mesa wind farms, valued at
      a combined $200 million, paid $3 million in taxes to the McCamey school
      district last year, according to the tax assessor-collector's office.

      Meanwhile, Crockett County collected about $53,000 in school taxes last
      year from FPL's Southwest Mesa Wind Farm, the majority of which is located
      in Upton County, Crockett County Tax Assessor-Collector Tommy Stokes said.

      Building the wind farms has been a boon to the host counties as well.

      Construction of the Pecos County wind farms generated $11 million in gross
      sales and created 80 to 100 jobs. That's comparable to the economic impact
      of the Toyota Plant about to be built in San Antonio, said Doug May,
      executive director of the Pecos County Economic Development Corp.

      When the tax abatements the counties granted the wind-energy companies
      expire, they will begin reaping the financial benefits only the school
      districts now enjoy.

      Phillips said the wind farms in and around McCamey have propped up property
      values and created jobs.

      "King Mountain provided 30 to 40 jobs when it got up and running, which is
      great for us because they are better-paying jobs than what most of these
      people have had out here, at least for some," Phillips said. "We can always
      use more (wind farms), but we're hoping maybe related industries will come
      in. They will definitely be welcome." In addition to the wind farms, the
      Lower Colorado River Authority is planning to spend about $500 million over
      the next two to three years to improve the transmission system.

      The LCRA last week energized a $95 million bulk transmission line north of
      Abilene.

      The 345-kilovolt line took five years to complete and provided a welcome
      boost to the economies of the cities and towns through which the line
      passed, said Bill McCann, spokesman for the LCRA.

      "It was certainly a boon to the folks in San Angelo area," McCann said.

      "That sure did bring in additional jobs. I think the contractor hired like
      60 employees locally for that project. So it does indicate there will be
      some local economic benefit."

      -----

      To see more of the Odessa American, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to
      http://www.oaoa.com

      (c) 2003, Odessa American, Texas. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune
      Business News.
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