Scandia Wind Southwest
In Parmer county, in the Panhandle of Texas, it seems as if the wind is always blowing. Several years ago, Jim Swafford of Bovina began to ask, "How can we take advantage of the wind?" Soon, land owners began to come to Jim looking for someone to represent their land and attempt to attract wind developers. Eventually Jim contacted Jens Petersen of Alpha Wind Energy asking, "Would you be interested in coming to Texas?"
View the video to learn about Scandia Wind Southwest's Mariah Project.
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Within a few months Jens and Harald Dirdal of Havgul Clean Energy decided to make a preliminary visit to Parmer county. They were impressed by both the opportunities and the challenges of wind farm development in this area. Because the entire Panhandle region of Texas has a relatively low population there is no local need to develop large scale wind power. The Southwest Power Pool, which serves most of the Panhandle region, currently operates with a power surplus. The large population centers of eastern and southern Texas are in the ERCOT area which is challenged by a power deficit, a large population in a relatively small geographical area, and long distances from the wind and land rich high plains.
Parmer county also offers a unique opportunity: it is located near the only place where the three national grid areas come together. Technical and political issues keep the three grids separate, but they could be connected using large DC interconnects. By combining a large scale wind farm with a large grid project each could help the other succeed.
The Mariah Project is a plan to develop upwards of 3000 MW of wind energy in Parmer county, plus several thousand MW more in the region. It will take a project of this size to make a grid project financially attractive. Wind measurements have been recorded in Bovina since the middle of 2006. Additional anemometers are being installed in the summer of 2009 to validate the wind data and provide the basis for computer modeling.
Irrigated farms have been the dominant economic force in Parmer county since the 1950's. The Ogallala Aquifer, also known as the High Plains Aquifer, is a vast yet shallow underground water table aquifer located beneath the Great Plains in the United States. This water table has dropped significantly over the last decades and will soon be inadequate to continue the current level of use in irrigation in this area. Thousands of acres will be converted into dry land farms and ranches in the decades to come. A huge wind farm is a way to replace some of this lost income and initiate a whole new economic base for the county.
The Mariah project also includes development work in Sherman and Dallam counties in the northern Texas panhandle. Current plans are to develop between 2000 and 7000 MW over the next several years in these counties.