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County approves two wind energy reinvestment zones

In what was already assumed to be a foregone conclusion, Hale County commissioners on Monday unanimously approved two 5-year reinvestment zones for wind farm projects going up on opposite sides of the county.

The zones, which can be renewed after five years, were approved in two separate public hearings held after Monday’s regularly scheduled commissioners court session. The first, held at 10 a.m., awarded Reinvestment Zone No. 5 to Hale Community Energy, the combined group of four wind farms in the southeastern part of the county.

That project will utilize 123,000 acres of land near Petersburg to south of Plainview. Once completed, the project is expected to produce 1100 megawatts of power. With the construction of phase one, the project will produce between 200 to 240 megawatts.

Attorney Lanny Voss, representing Hale Community Energy, told the court once finished, the project will be the largest community owned wind farm in the nation. “If not the world,” he said.

County Judge Bill Coleman, following the unanimous vote, told Voss and the assembled group of project leaders “This forms the foundation of what I hope to be a long and profitable partnership.”

Attorney Joe Heflin, who represented the other group, asked to address the crowd. “I’m glad you are pushing for this,” he told the Hale Community Energy organizers. Heflin, who previously served as a state representative, talked about the push for wind energy in West Texas and was grateful to see action being taken.

Following a recess, the commissioners reconvened at 11 a.m. to hear from the second group, Plain View Orchard Wind, a smaller wind farm that will operate in an area from just northwest of Plainview up to the Hale/Swisher County line.

That group, represented by Heflin, will produce approximately 200 megawatts of power at full capacity.

Their reinvestment zone, known as Reinvestment Zone No. 6, was approved on a motion from Precinct 1 Commissioner Harold King. “I would be glad to make this motion,” he told the court. “We’re ready for this to happen.”

Upon approval Heflin thanked the court. “How excited we all are for our opportunity.”

Coleman reaffirmed the county’s commitment to wind energy. “We look forward to a good working relationship in the future.”

Among other items voted on in Monday’s regular meeting was the approval of the 2014 estimated county payroll, set for $7.9 million. Coleman decided to table a draft review of economic development agreements with the City of Plainview so that the court could have more time to review the agreement. The court accepted a report from Hale Center EMS on its current operating system, and set a joint Republican and Democrat primary for March 4.

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