Amazon invests in massive Texas wind farm

Source: By Jordan Blum, Houston Chronicle • Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Amazon is investing in West Texas wind for its largest renewable energy project ever.

Seattle-based Amazon is teaming up with Chicago’s Lincoln Clean Energy to build the 253-megawatt Amazon Wind Farm Texas west of Abilene in Scurry County. One megawatt typically powers 200 homes on a hot Texas day.

The wind farm, which is slated to open by the end of 2017, will feature more than 100 wind turbines designed to help power Amazon’s Texas’ facilities and much more. The electricity will feed into the overall state grid.

“Amazon Wind Farm Texas is our largest renewable energy project to date and the newest milestone in our long-term sustainability efforts across the company,” said Kara Hurst, Amazon director of sustainability, in the announcement.

Amazon is continuing to expand in Texas. The online shopping juggernaut opened a new, “Silicon Hills” corporate hub last year in Austin and, in 2014, leased out a large chunk of office space at the Dallas Galleria complex. Amazon has Dallas-area warehouses, called fulfillment centers, in Coppell and Haslet.

There’s also a large Amazon warehouse and customer service center outside of San Antonio in Schertz. Earlier this summer, Amazon pledged to open a new 855,000-square-foot distribution warehouse in north Houston at the Pinto Business Park near Interstate 45 and Beltway 8 that’s under development. The Amazon fulfillment center is expected to employ 1,000 people. That’s in addition to Amazon’s Prime Now warehouse hub in Humble.

Amazon also just opened more than 20 “Pop Up” electronics stores nationwide, including two in Texas in San Antonio and Arlington.

As for the wind farm, the project costs were not released, but Lincoln CEO Declan Flanagan has described the cost of a 200-megawatt Texas wind farms at about $300 million.

Amazon already has announced smaller wind and solar farms in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia. However, Texas leads the nation by far in wind power.

Google, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, General Motors, Procter & Gamble, Dow Chemical Co. and Hewlett-Packard all count among the companies buying power from Texas wind farms. Ikea even owns a wind farm in the state.

Lincoln Clean Energy will build and own the Amazon wind farm, but Amazon is contracting to buy 90 percent of the generated power.

Lincoln, which also has offices in Austin, is developing other Texas wind projects as well. Its planned Horse Creek Wind project north of Abilene and the Electra Wind development near Wichita Falls — both 200-megawatt wind farms — are still in the works. However, Lincoln’s 201-megawatt Nazareth Solar project in the Texas Panhandle has faced ongoing delays.

Lincoln previously developed and sold the Hereford and Jumbo Road wind farms in Texas that opened in 2014 and 2015, respectively.