Today, just three years later, wind turbines generating 8005-megawatts, more than all the turbines spinning in California, Iowa and Minnesota, have outstripped the capacity of the high-voltage grid to move the power from windy west Texas to major cities where its needed.
But, after a year of laying the groundwork to plan for as much as 18,500-megawatts of wind power, the Texas Public Utility Commission (Texas PUC) handed out rights last Thursday to a total of nine companies to construct $5 billion in new transmission lines.
"We have taken a big step to deliver more wind power to Texas electric customers," Texas PUC Chairman Barry Smitherman said after the decision.
West Texas and the Panhandle are the epicenter of wind development - not only in the State, but also the nation. Wind farm developers routinely hold town meetings encouraging local landowners to sign up for turbines and prosper from todays new "green" energy rush - just as the oil companies before them scrambled to stake claims a generation ago.
John Deere, with its 100 year old ties to rural America providing farm and industrial equipment is one of the largest owners and financiers of wind projects in west Texas. In the heart of the Texas Panhandle, in Moore, Swisher and Donley Counties, NACEL Energy has four wind projects underway totaling 80-megawatts.
Another active wind farm developer in the region is Edison International. The huge Southern California utility owns an extensive portfolio of wind farms in west Texas generating more than 200-megawatts.