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Leases on Texas state lands for wind development

The Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office (GLO) says he will offer leases on state lands for wind development to help pay for schools in the state, just as it has offered leases to oil, gas and minerals developers over the past century. Commissioner Jerry Patterson, who says the GLO now has an "open for wind business" sign on its door, hopes to have the first parcel of land ready by April 2004, including lands offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Texas owns 367 miles of the Gulf Coast out to 10.3 miles. Other US states that border open water do not have sea bed ownership rights. A number of abandoned oil and gas platforms that already exist along Texas' shallow offshore shelf could be revived and used to mount wind turbines, Patterson says. All profits would go to the state's Permanent School Fund, which currently pays schools $700 million each year. Along with making more money for the fund, Patterson thinks that opening up the Texas coastline would provide an alternative to wind power development in the transmission constrained West Texas area. Lack of transmission is a particular problem in the remote scrub desert around McCamey, which has some of the state's best wind resources, but cannot reliably deliver the power to East Texas cities. Texas has 1085 MW of wind generation online and nearly 200 MW under development by TXU utilities, but it will still need to build more than another 700 MW by 2008 to fulfil the state's renewables portfolio standard.

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