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Reuters: Shell, TXU plan world’s largest wind farm

Fri Jul 27, 2007 9:46 PM BST

HOUSTON, July 27 (Reuters) – Shell WindEnergy Inc., a unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC and TXU Corp., have proposed to build the world’s largest wind power project in the Texas Panhandle.

Shell and TXU’s power generation unit, Luminant, have proposed building a 3,000-megawatt wind project in Briscoe County, about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Amarillo.

At 3,000 MW, the project would double the current wind generation in Texas, which last year surpassed California as the state that generates the most power from wind.

Shell and Dallas-based TXU will also explore the use of combining wind with compressed air storage, in which excess power could be used to pump air underground for later use in generating electricity, the company said in a statement.

Combining the technology can “turn wind from an intermittent resource into a more reliable resource,” said Tom Kleckner, spokesman for TXU Corp.

TXU is the largest power company in Texas and is being purchased by a group of private equity firms led by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. [KKR.UL] and Texas Pacific Group [TPG.UL] in a $32 billion transaction.

Shell spokeswoman Destin Singleton said the use of compressed air is new for Shell, which has wind projects in the U.S. and Europe, both onshore and offshore.

The Briscoe County project announcement follows action by Texas regulators one week ago to designate eight zones as the best sites for construction of new power lines to bring wind power from the windy areas of the state to population centers, like Dallas and San Antonio. One of the designated zones includes Briscoe County, which has a population of less than 2,000.

The Texas Public Utility Commission has proposed a number of scenarios based on the level of investment interest by wind producers in Texas in order to decide how many new transmission lines would be needed.

The eight zones designated by the PUC could support more than 20,000 megawatts of new wind generation, testimony in the case showed.

“This demonstrates serious interest in development out in the windiest areas of Texas,” said Susan Williams Sloan of the American Wind Energy Association, a trade group for the wind industry.

Companies that have proposed new wind projects or power lines in the state include a joint venture created by American Electric Power Co. , and units of ITC Holdings Corp. , FPL Group , AES , BP Wind , privately held Sharyland Utilities, TXU Corp. and CenterPoint Energy Inc.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which oversees the transmission network that supplies power to a majority of the state, has requests to connect more than 28,000 MW of new wind generation, more than one-third of its total requests from new power plants that want to join the grid.

About 1,500 MW of new wind generation is scheduled to be completed this year in Texas, according to ERCOT.

© Reuters 2007. All rights reserved. 

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