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Pampa's Future Role in the Wind Industry

It's been an up and down week for what's been dubbed as the next "Wind Capital of the World."

What was once a wide-eyed outlook for the wind industry in Gray and Roberts counties, has somewhat fizzled out.

But as doubt surrounds a proposed wind farm built by T. Boone Pickens, we looked into what the future is for Pampa.

It was May 27th of last year when the former Amarillo oilman was in Pampa telling a crowd how he intended to build the world's largest wind farm.

That day we asked him how he could build such a massive project.

"Is that a real question?" said Pickens, "If I tell someone I'm going to do something I'm going to do it."

Now pickens has scaled that vision back.

"They have told us they are not scrapping it but they are delaying it," said Clay Rice, the Executive Director of the Pampa Economic Development Corporation.

 What was originally meant to be in operation by 2011, is now pushed back two years.

And the project now is about a quarter the size of its original goal of four thousand megawatts, or enough power for over two million homes. 

Proof the project will move forward can only be confirmed by people who have leased their land to Mesa Power LP, Picken's wind energy company.

"For my client that means their leases would continue and they'll continue to receive their annual rent," said James Wester, an attorney for Underwood Law Firm.

Last year mesa power canceled about 100 leases.

And now some people in Pampa are wondering if this town can still become "The Wind Capital of the World."

For that to happen, and bring the economic benefit this town needs, many experts say that depends on the transmission lines the Public Utility Commission of Texas is funding.

"We will see a glut of activity to coincide with building wind farms and transmission lines all trying to occur at the same time," said Wester.

"We think that the growth is inevitable we just can't say specifically what year, what time. We do believe growth is inevitable," said Rice.

"It's just going to take a little bit longer than some of those folks originally thought," said A.J. Swope, the Executive Director of Class 4 Winds.

Last year Mesa Power released an economic report saying its proposed four thousand megawatt farm could employ at least 15 hundred people and mean millions if not billions of dollars of revenue for the surrounding area.

The experts we spoke with say with continued development by other companies, Pampa should still see that boom.

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