General Electric says it received orders in 2008 for 667 of its 1.5-megawatt (MW) wind turbines from Mesa Power LLP, a company founded by T. Boone Pickens, the former oilman and founder of BP Capital. This energy investment firm and Pickens launched Mesa Power to build the world’s largest wind power plant, the Pampa Wind Project. The 4,000-MW facility will be located near Pampa, Texas, northeast of Amarillo on the Texas panhandle, and will stretch east, spanning five counties. Mesa Power’s current order for wind turbines — the world’s largest wind turbine order for a single location — will provide 1,000 MW of wind-power capacity for the $2 billion first phase of the project, which will be online by early 2011. The company plans to complete all four phases of the $10 billion project by 2014. According to GE, an economic impact study found the project will generate 1,500 jobs during construction and support about 720 jobs when operating. Also while operating, the project is expected to pay local landowners a total of $65.3 million per year to lease their land for wind power production.
The Pampa Wind Project will depend heavily on Texas creating a Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZs), which will link to the grid by new transmission lines. Last year, the Texas Public Utility Commission identified five CREZs, including the future site of the Pampa Wind Project. One study places the cost of the transmission lines at $2.95 to $6.38 billion. The Wind Coalition says the proposed improvements would save consumers more than $3 billion in annual energy costs.
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