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Gulf Coast wind farms spring up, as do worries

Texas is the leading producer of wind power in the United States.  Most of the wind farms are located in West Texas, where the highest winds blow and land is plentiful.  In the last few years, wind farms have been springing up along the Gulf Coast in Southern Texas.  Compared to West Texas, these coastal farms supply power that matches more closely with peak demand times.  Also, power is more easily transmitted to customers because the infrastructure already exists.  However, there are a couple of concerns with the coastal location of these newer wind farms.  First, environmental groups such as the Audubon Society argue that the farms may damage coastal wetlands and wildlife; for example, the turbines intersect birds’ migration path and thus the spinning blades may threaten their lives.  Second, a nearby Naval air station is concerned that the turbines may show up on radar appearing as airplanes and interfere with pilot training.  Market competitiveness will also be an issue, as the Public Utility Commission of Texas has approved a 5 billion dollar plan to build transmission lines to wind farms in West Texas between now and 2013.  SC

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