Wind Power, Texas-Size



Lubbock, Texas.

If you know just one thing about Lubbock, it’s probably that Buddy Holly was born in this wind-swept West Texas town.

People fly here from all over the world, a cab driver told me, just to visit the museum devoted to the early rocker, and pay homage at the grave of the man who inspired Bob Dylan, the Beatles, and…just about every other band that followed.

A Museum for Windmills

WindmillsFew of the Buddy Holly fans here know about the other museum in town: The Windmill Museum, which claims to have “the largest collection of American Style Windmills in the World.”

To be honest, I had forgotten that the man who wrote and sang “Peggy Sue,” was born here. And I’m pretty sure I had never heard of the windmill museum until today. But an even bigger surprise waited for me as I headed out of town this morning, going southeast on highway 84.

I don’t know how many windmills are at the museum, but the real show is the giant wind turbines that line the highway for over a hundred miles. It’s the largest collection of wind turbines in the world. The Roscoe Wind Farm itself, the largest of all, has 627 turbines rising from the cotton fields, with an electrical generating capacity of nearly 800 MW. Hundreds of others cover mesas like sentinels and reach to the horizon.

WindmillI drove with my Flip-Mino HD camera running, thinking that the parade of windmills would end any moment. Running out of space on the video hard drive, and with no end in sight for the windmills, I finally, reluctantly, turned the camera off. It’s a good thing I did.  There was another hour to go before the windmills thinned and then ended.

A Texas Power Shift

Leave it to Texas to do things on a huge scale. And that’s exactly what we need at the moment. A power shift from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy sources. Driving down this new American Wind Highway, it occurred to me that I may owe the Lone Star State an apology. For I have sinned the sin of harsh thoughts directed toward Texas. I felt I was justified. After all, they had been the spawning ground for the eight-year disaster of W.

But: driving for 100 miles and never being out of sight of wind farms? I felt I had seen the future, and, darned if it didn’t look a bit like Texas.

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