West Texas reinventing itself with new energy projects - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

West Texas reinventing itself with new energy projects

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) - For the past decade, the numbers of farmers, ranchers and oil field workers in West Texas have been on a steady decline.

Now the region is reinventing itself -- this time as a hub of alternative energy.

Among the plans the region has on its drawing board are ethanol plants and wind farms, plus possible nuclear reactors and coal-powered plants.

Economists and analysts say this shift from farming and oil-producing is necessary for the region's economy and growth.

Just last week, a University of Tennessee study projected that Texas would lead the nation in production of renewable energy by twenty-twenty-five. The study says the projects will create more than 173,000 jobs and add about $22.8 billion annually to the state's economy.

Currently in West Texas, there are three ethanol plants already under construction.

Billionaire T-Boone Pickens recently announced plans to build the world's largest wind farm in the Panhandle, and in the Permian Basin, a feasibility study is underway for a possible $400 million nuclear reactor that would be built by twenty-twelve.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples says the region is eager to expand its economy beyond food and fiber.

Staples says the projects are an opportunity to attract new minds and new talents to the rural parts of Texas that have been hamstrung by small populations.

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