Innovative thinking could bring the world's largest wind farm to Parmer County

Published: Feb. 5, 2010 at 4:56 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 8, 2010 at 3:50 AM CST
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Floyd Reeve
Floyd Reeve
Scandia President Jim Swafford
Scandia President Jim Swafford

Bovina, TX --  While wind power development has stalled in our area, an innovative idea in Parmer County could change that, and put the focus of the industry back on the Texas Panhandle.

When Floyd Reeve's family began farming their land a century ago in Parmer County, they looked to the Panhandle's notorious winds to make it possible.

Reeve says, "You know it's interesting, before electricity came to this area in the 30's, prior to that, each little farmstead had a wind turbine. A real small one, to run their homestead. So now here we go with an innovative wind turbine, that will make many many times what those wind turbines made."

But wind farm developers have largely shied away from this area, in part because the land is so divided.

Landowner Mindy Neal-Widner says, "Wind farm developers come in, they don't want to have to have to look at 225 or 400 land owners, and try to get a contract for each one of them."

So landowners in Parmer County took a bold step, creating their own company, Parmerton-Rhea LLC., to deal directly with Scandia Wind Southwest.

Scandia President Jim Swafford says, "It's not one person, it's not one individual, but it is the people in this county, that is unique about it. Getting together, joining together, and it's making it work."

The end result could include 1,000 wind turbines, on 200,000 acres, producing 3,000 megawatts of electricity. That's enough to power around 3 million homes.

Scandia's Mike Prather says, "I think showing that it can be done is a first step to other projects that could also say we have land, we have wind, we can produce electricity for areas and people that need it."

And if it works, it could open the door for other cost-efficient, massive wind farms not only in our area, but also across North America.

Reeve says, "You know, my grandparents came here in 1908, and they needed a little wind to run their windmill. And then the wind just kept blowing, and they thought, my goodness, if we could sell this wind. Well here we are a 100 years later, and possibly, possibly, we can make something out of it."

The possible solution to future wind energy production across North America, out of an idea that came from a discussion that started in Bovina, an idea that Reeve hopes will keep his family farming the same land for the next century, and beyond.

Scandia Southwest plans to send some it's electricity directly into the Texas grid.

The rest could go into Tres Amigas near Clovis,  which will connect all three major grids in the United States.