Category Archives: In the News


Austin-based Cielo Wind Power, LP, continues its Earth Steward Scholarship program through participation in Earth Day events in Amarillo and Austin, Texas Austin, Texas – Cielo Wind Power, LP of Austin, Texas – the largest independent wind power company in the United States – continues its 8th $25,000 in scholarships to school districts in Texas and New Mexico. Panhandle area scholarship recipients were invited to attend Cielo’s Earth Day at the Gardens event on Saturday, April 26 in Amarillo where awards were presented. The festive event included food, music and a butterfly release by attendees to close out the day. Austin area recipients were awarded at the annual Earth Day Festival held at the Mueller Development.

Scholarship recipients were asked to choose from three essay topics and describe their responsibility as earth stewards and how they will continue to pursue that responsibility in their education, communities, and career plans. “The scholarship is a great way for Cielo to give back to local communities and recognize outstanding students who demonstrate a commitment to land stewardship,” said Walt Hornaday, President of Cielo Wind Power, LP.

Cielo recognizes the need for promotion of environmental education and views the scholarship program as an investment in Texas’ renewable energy future. Recently, Cielo has been involved with the development of approximately 600 MW of wind energy in the Texas panhandle. Cielo’s activity in the region demonstrates a significant commitment to workforce development and stimulation of the tax base in the communities encompassed in its project footprint.

Cielo is a privately held company based in Austin, Texas that develops, owns and operates wind power facilities in the southwest. Wind Ranch® is a registered trademark licensed to Cielo and represents the ideals the company embraces in taking necessary steps to minimize the impact of wind projects on farming, ranching and natural uses of the land.

2014 Earth Steward Scholarship Recipients

• McKenna Britten, Groom High School

• Duncan Douglas, Coronado High School

• Erin Hay, Bushland High School

• Diana Hernandez, Iraan High School

• William Mahony, Regents School of Austin

• Mary Neeley, Panhandle High School

• Amy Raines-Baxter, Logan High School

• Cody Richardson, Adrian High School

• Sarah Rogan, Regents School of Austin

• Brenda Salazar, Ann Richard School

• Denton Shaw, Texas tech University

• Leah Taylor, Logan High School

• Logan Templeton, Rankin High School

• James Treiber, Adrian High School

• Armando Vazquez, Eastside Memorial High School

• Bailey Wichert, Pampa High School

• Madeline Wiegel, Tucumcari High School

Energy company acquires Texas Panhandle wind farm

Energy company acquires Texas Panhandle wind farm

Posted: January 8, 2014 – 10:54pm

By Kevin Welch

EDF Renewable Energy, the U.S. subsidiary of a French company, announced Wednesday its purchase of a fourth wind farm in the Texas Panhandle.

The firm’s newest acquisition is Spinning Spur 3, to be built west of the first two Spinning Spur wind farms that run west from Vega in Oldham County, all purchased from Austin-based Cielo Wind Power.

The three Spinning Spurs will sell electricity to different companies.

The first is selling to Southwestern Public Service in a 15-year agreement. The second has no purchase agreement and will sell on the spot market on the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas grid downstate when the wind farm is complete in May or June, said Sandi Briner, an EDF spokeswoman.

Tech giant Google paid $200 million to buy an undisclosed share of Spinning Spur 1 last year.

The newest wind farm will sell to two municipal utilities downstate. Georgetown Utility Systems, near Austin, and Garland Power & Light, near Dallas, through long-term purchase agreements with EDF.

Sales to utilities serving the state’s metropolitan areas has been made possible by the recent completion of high-voltage transmission lines by Cross Texas Transmission and Sharyland Utilities. Access to those markets is driving most wind development in the region.

“This is a project that wouldn’t have happened without those lines going to areas with more population,” said Walt Hornaday, chairman and president of Cielo. “That’s a transaction we couldn’t have done.”

The turbines of Spinning Spur 3 will be on 18,000 acres and stretch from Adrian to the edge of the Caprock where Interstate 40 drops west toward New Mexico. The project will have a maximum production capacity of 194 megawatts.

Standard performance of a wind farm sees production at about 25 to 30 percent, said Ken Starcher, associate director for training, education and outreach at West Texas A&M University’s Alternative Energy Institute. Oldham County wind farms have performed at about 50 percent of capacity.

The companies didn’t release financial terms, but industry estimates place the construction cost around $388 million.

Cielo developed all three projects and is helping with the oversight of the construction of Spinning Spur 2.

“On Spinning Spur 3, they have us under contract for 2014 to work on the project and we’re hopeful we’ll keep working on it in 2015,” Hornaday said.

The wind farm should be in operation by the end of 2015, according to a news release.

The other EDF wind project will be southeast of Hereford in Deaf Smith County developed by Lincoln Renewable Energy and purchased by EDF last year.

Hornaday credits a receptive attitude in Oldham County for the five wind farms his company has developed there. The projects have gotten tax abatements and still produced enough income to lower taxes.

“The reason we’re out there is Oldham County commissioners and the schools,” Hornaday said. “Property taxes outstrip any other operating expenses.”

County Judge Don Allred was out of town and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Plans for new wind farm near Vega announced

Amarillo Globe

Plans for new wind farm near Vega announced

Posted: April 24, 2013 – 9:39pm

By Kevin Welch

Plans for new wind farm near Vega announced

Amarillo Globe-News

Kevin Welch

April 24, 2013 9:39 PM EDT

Copyright 2013 Amarillo Globe-News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

One wind farm led to another Wednesday with the announcement of Spinning Spur II during the dedication of Spinning Spur I just north and west of Vega.

“Spinning Spur II will bring about a new era in wind production as we begin to move power from the Panhandle, with its tremendous production capabilities, to the ERCOT grid where the demand for power is so great,” said Oldham County Judge Don Allred before the event.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas runs the electric grid that covers about 75 percent of the state but not the Texas Panhandle. It includes the state’s largest cities. Sharyland Utilities and Cross Texas Transmission are building transmission lines in the Panhandle to connect to that grid.

The Spinning Spur wind farms are owned by EDF Renewable Energy, the U.S. subsidiary of EDF Energies Nouvelles which is based in France, and Google.

Cielo Wind Power of Austin helped develop the first project.

“Cielo and EDF Renewable Energy are in partnership on the continued development of Spinning Spur II” said Sandi Briner, spokeswoman for EDF.

The first Spinning Spur project sells its electricity for local consumption to Southwestern Public Service, a subsidiary of Xcel Energy, under a 15-year purchase agreement.

Each wind farm will have a capacity of 161 megawatts. A megawatt is enough electricity to supply about 350 average homes. However, wind farms would have to produce their maximum amount of power all day every day to meet their listed capacity.

According to industry estimates, it costs about $1 million for every megawatt of capacity to build a wind farm.

Spinning Spur II will continue the array of wind turbines belonging to different companies that starts east of Wildorado and runs westward past Vega. The line will stretch to near Adrian, or almost 30 miles, with the completion of the new project.

The new Spinning Spur will span about 16,800 acres with 87 turbines when it is complete in the summer of 2014, according to a news release. Construction should start in June.

“Launching our third project in Texas demonstrates confidence in the next wave of wind power’s growth and construction in the state,” said Tristan Grimbert, president and CEO of EDF Renewable Energy, on April 16 when his company bought Cielo’s 49 percent interest in Spinning Spur II.

Brownsville EarthFest brings community together in Linear Park

Brownsville Herald

EarthFest brings community together in Linear Park

Photos by Paul Chouy/The Brownsville Herald

Children play on a large inflatable slide at EarthFest 2013 on Saturday at Linear Park.

Posted: Saturday, April 27, 2013 9:55 pm
EarthFest brings community together in Linear Park: By Melissa Montoya The Brownsville Herald
Messages urging Brownsville residents to reuse and recycle were on full display during EarthFest 2013 at Linear Park on Saturday.

Artisans sold their wares while others exhibited artwork made from recycled supplies. Such was the case when four students from Saint Joseph Academy modeled the dresses they made from materials like trash bags, aluminum cans and duct tape.

Seventeen-year-old Alejandra Hinojosa fashioned herself a dress made out of duct tape. She said it took three days to make the dress but she wanted to show people that it’s worthwhile to recycle plastic.

Grecia Rodriguez, 17, said it took her a week to make her dress out of trash bags. A stylish bow made out of newspapers was part of the dress’s décor.

“I started saving trash bags since the summer,” Grecia, also a student at Saint Joseph Academy, said.

The group of students made their dresses for the school’s “Trashion Show.”

Marianna Gonzales, who made one of the dresses, said she always recycles at home. The dress she created was made of aluminum cans that had been cut into strips. The top of the dress was adorned by can tops.

“Aluminum is one of the most popular things that get recycled,” she said. “Our Earth is getting polluted. When you recycle it comes back as something else.”

Cielo Wind Power is planning the building of wind turbines near the Port of Brownsville in 2014. Robert Peña, a development manager with the company who was at the festival to award scholarships, said the community can benefit from sustainable energy.

“Renewable energy uses natural resources to provide electricity,” Peña said.

It reduces the carbon footprint while providing people with inexpensive energy, he said.

Rose Timmer, executive director of Healthy Communities of Brownsville, said this year’s EarthFest had a good turnout, estimating that 2,000 people arrived for the festivities.

“It brings the community together,” Timmer said.

Timmer said she recycles but also tries to diminish by cutting out things she thinks are unnecessary.

“No straws and I don’t drink bottled water,” Timmer said. “I think that’s a sin.”

“If you reduce that kind of use it would make a lot of difference,” she added.

The Lessons of the Battle Over Tax Increases for the Wind Industry

Carl Pope

Former executive director and chairman, Sierra Club

Original Article from the Huffington Post

Now that Congress, as part of its fiscal cliff compromise, has given the wind industry a one year extension on its present tax rules, it’s time to take a sober look at the real economics behind the struggle between future energy — wind, solar, efficiency, geothermal — and fossil fuels. During the fight over whether to increase taxes on the wind industry — ironically led by anti-business tax Republicans — the real issue was made crystal clear. In a letter to Congress, a group of fossil fuel supported lobbying groups, led by the American Energy Alliance and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, argued that the current tax structure for wind and solar had “already negatively impacted electricity reliability, because the artificial price structure created by the PTC encourages the development of uneconomic wind while undermining the economics of reliable, full time generation such as coal and nuclear.”

There it is. Coal and nuclear are reliable — wind and solar are not. Coal and nuclear are affordable — wind and solar are subsidized. Stick with the past.

Well, let’s begin with one fact that both sides can probably agree on. Producing electricity from fully amortized, old generating facilities — whether coal or nuclear or natural gas — is cheaper in general than producing electricity from any new facility. (In 20 years producing power from amortized wind turbines will be even cheaper, because they won’t need fuel.) But that is irrelevant to the question of what kind of new facilities are most competitive and desirable. And the United States will need to replace all of its nuclear and most of its coal over the next 30 years — much of it in the next decade. Power plants wear out.

So first, are coal and nuclear reliable? That would be a big surprise to the customers of California’s San Onofre plant which has been shut down now for over a year, at a cost to its owners of $317 million. And it was not evident last year in Texas when a mysterious problem not yet disclosed forced the closure of the new Sandy Creek coal plant, and threatened the reliability of the entire Texas grid in the process. And last summer, faced with hot temperatures, both coal and nuclear plants around the nation had to be shut down because they couldn’t operate in the heat.

Cheap? Ask the North Dakota farmers whose co-op invested $437 million in a brand-new coal plant, Great River Energy, and then having completed it, found it could not afford to operate it and shuttered it unused. Or query why the only circumstances under which American utilities will build nuclear power plants is if they both get 90 percent federal loan guarantees and are permitted by state regulators to charge their customers, not their shareholders, for the costs of construction. Florida Power and Light, under this doctrine, sunk hundreds of millions of dollars into preparations for building new nuclear plants that it freely conceded it might never need. Absent such subsidies, utility executives freely conceded they can’t afford new nuclear plants.

So, in fact, wind and solar are both cheaper — in a free market — than either new coal or nuclear. (New natural gas, for the moment, is cheaper still — but everyone concedes that current gas prices can’t continue, and that eventually the price of gas must almost double, to $6/mcf, which would make wind and solar the cheapest new sources of electricity.)

Cheapness is not the only economic advantage wind and solar bring to the electricity sector. They are already generating huge numbers of new jobs and supply chains. In fact, as this chart shows, the United States now has more solar jobs than it has coal jobs.

And wind in particular has been generating huge new manufacturing opportunities and supply chains. In only a few years the domestic component of wind turbines erected in the United States soared from 25 percent to 50 percent. In a political year in which both parties claimed they wanted to bring back American manufacturing, it was clinically insane for Congress to almost shoot in the head the fastest growing manufacturing sector in the American economy.

Nor is this a zero sum game. Natural gas, wind and solar together make a much more balanced and affordable electric supply system than any one alone. And on the manufacturing side, the partnership is working well too. A new study in Ohio by the American Clean Skies Foundation showed that the two sectors providing sales opportunities for the largest number of Ohio manufacturers were wind and natural gas, and reported that wind suppliers also

were serving the natural gas drilling, production and processing business — and what they learned from the natural gas industry often transferred and was usable in the wind energy sector. At the same time, some companies found their experience in wind energy positioned them to serve the oil and gas market.

So it’s a rare legislative victory these days that the wind industry got a one-year extension of its present tax regime. It’s already having positive ripple effects. “It has us dusting off projects we had put on the shelf,” said Walt Hornaday, chairman and president of Cielo Wind Energy. “I was impressed wind was in the bill with big-ticket items like Medicaid and the Farm Bill. It used to be wind wouldn’t have a chance to be included.” Amarillo Globe-News (Texas)

But that victory came with huge losses. During the year that Congress dickered, huge portions of the American wind manufacturing sector shut down. While last year’s wind installations were a new record, much of this was because companies raced to finish projects fearing tax increases for new projects in 2013 — and far fewer wind farms and their jobs and power will come on line this year in the resultant famine. The United States exacerbated its reputation as a clean energy-hostile business environment. And the inability of Congress to make normal compromises led to deep splits between wind manufacturers, developers and some of their previously sympathetic utility allies. All of these wounds will encourage the fossil fuel industry and other renewables opponents to keep trying to tax clean energy to death — even as they aggressively defend the even larger tax support that goes to their industries. Indeed, fossil fuel subsidies in the United States and other rich countries run five times the level of their investments in financing climate protection globally. And yet we can expect a continuation of the drum-beat from the fossil monopolies that providing $4 billion a year in support for new energy technologies is a bad deal, and that instead we should keep pouring $10 billion a year, for example, into big oil.

A veteran leader in the environmental movement, Carl Pope is the former executive director and chairman of the Sierra Club. Mr. Pope is co-author — along with Paul Rauber — of Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress, which the New York Review of Books called “a splendidly fierce book.”