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State leaders say wind is the way to go

By: Kendra Mendez

Lawmakers say more transmission lines need to be builit to bring energy from West Texas turbines throughout the state. Wind energy made its mark at the Capitol, with two separate press conferences on a similar agenda Monday.

Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said it's an important issue that's never been more timely to discuss than right now.

"To reduce our reliance on dirty coal and on expensive natural gas," he said.

In order to do that, lawmakers said more transmission lines need to be built to deliver energy from West Texas wind turbines to other areas of the state.

State leaders traveled to Austin because the Texas Public Utilities Commission is finalizing its decision on whether or not to expand on wind.

Gregory Wortham, Mayor of Sweetwater, Texas, said he's already seen the benefits of wind energy.

"Its massive amounts of jobs and its tremendous environmental savings, energy cost savings and it's a huge potential for our state," he said.

Wildlife experts aren't as enthusiastic.

They said the propeller on wind generators are a threat to birds and other animals.

Texas Parks and Wildlife is working with planners to study the effects.

In the meantime, it would take between five to 10 years to build the added transmission lines.

The PUC is considering several plans that would put costs anywhere from about $3 billion - $6.4 billion.

If they do go for more wind, they said consumers would see the savings.

Right now, state leaders are confident investing in wind will help blow energy prices in a better direction.

Copyright 2008 TWEAN d.b.a. News 8 Austin

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