E.ON Climate and Renewables (EC&R) in October 2009 completed the Roscoe Wind Complex, a project which spans four Texas counties with an area of nearly 100,000 acres and is now the world’s biggest wind farm.
The Roscoe Wind Farm beats the nearby Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center (735.5 MW) with an installed nameplate capacity of 781.5 MW that comes from 627 wind turbines. The wind farm is situated primarily on land used for cotton farming which stretches into three more Texas counties of Scurry, Nolan and Mitchell where the site is leased from dry-land cotton farmers.
An interesting fact about the Roscoe Wind farm is the story of its vision and its subsequent inception. Roscoe, a small city with a population of around 1300 was primarily an economy based on dry-land cotton farming. The people here used to curse the strong winds as it killed their crops, carried the moisture away and dried out the land. On the other hand, the town also depended on the economy generated by the traffic between Fort Worth and El Paso, but when the interstate bypassed the town, business went down and shops closed.
Cliff Etheredge, one of the 3rd generation local farmers, saw wind turbines cropping up near Roscoe (Horse Hollow) and thought on cashing in on the West Texas wind boom. With a vision, he organized over 400 land owners who owned more than 100,000 acres of land into one of the first wind projects in the US based entirely on family lands. They started hunting for investors and little did they know that they would be hitting jackpot. Now in Roscoe, income from a wind mill is more dependable than cotton farming as, depending on the size of a turbine a land owner can earn anywhere between $5000 to $15,000 per year with a lot of farmers having 10 to 20 turbines on their land. This has turned the once cursed wind into a cash crop for the farmers and has revived the town which had higher chances of being in trouble or worse, turning into a ghost town.
Construction on the farm began in May 2007 and ended in October 2009 where from the beginning of the farm a turbine was installed per day till the date of completion. The turbines range from 350 ft to 415 ft in height and are installed 900 ft apart. Among the total turbines, 209 are Mitsubishi 1000A models with an output of 1 MW. The farm which was built for a price tag of approximately $ 1 billion will be saving approximately 370,000T of greenhouse gases per year when compared to fossil fuel based plants. The complex has the capacity to power 265,000 homes which means that it can be a catalyst in the progress of the town.
At first, the inhabitants of the town found the wind turbines, which were in every direction, a bit unsightly. But now the people have begun to look up to them as they know that these wind turbines are going to go a long way in reviving their town’s economy and progress.