76°F
Sponsored by

Solar Energy Comes to Pecos County: a Look at the Barilla Solar Project

The first large-scale solar project in Pecos County is just months from being completed, expanding energy production to much more than wind, oil and gas.
The first large-scale solar project in Pecos County is just months from being completed, expanding energy production to much more than wind, oil and gas.

The Barilla Solar Project will produce about 21 megawatts of energy during its first stage, but later looks to expand to 30 megawatts.

John Lichtenberger, a senior manager of project development at First Solar, the company developing the project, said West Texas has the best potential in the state to produce energy.

“The energy that's produced here is produced at the same time when the state needs it the most so during these hot summer days is when energy is demanded most,” Lichtenberger said.

According to Lichtenberger, First Solar specifically chose the location, which is about 30 miles west of Fort Stockton.

And despite the area being recognized for oil, gas and wind energy, Doug May, the economic development director for Fort Stockton and Pecos County said solar energy has the potential to be more reliable than oil and gas.

“We've been through many boom and bust cycles in the oil and gas industry and one thing about these renewable energy projects is their energy output is constant,” May said.

It’s also proven to attract other solar companies to the area, May said. The County already has six other solar projects in the works expected to begin late 2014 or early 2015.

“Just getting in the ground proves the technology works and that makes everybody else more comfortable coming,” May said.

The energy produced by the Barilla Solar Project will go into the Electric Reliability Council Of Texas, giving solar electricity from Pecos county to people all over the state.

“I've had people ask me 'will we receive any of the energy of the solar power?' and my answer to them is yes, “said Pecos County Judge Joe Shuster. “We will receive some of that but we won't receive it all because eventually they're going to be making more solar power than what it would take to light Fort Stockton itself.”

Shuster said he supported the decision to bring First Solar to the area as a way to diversify the county.

“We have wind energy here, we have oil and gas and we need to diversify and that was one of our goals to diversify as much as possible,” Shuster said.

A move they hope brings new technologies, jobs and opportunities to the county.

“When you're able to offer them jobs in technology related industries like the wind industry or the solar industry it makes it a lot easier to bring your best and brightest back to your community or to attract other young professionals to come in,” May said.

The Barilla Solar project is currently undergoing testing before opening in about 30 to 60 days.

County residents see the project as something that will stay in the area long-term.

“They are going to stay there. It doesn't go up and down like the oil and gas cycle,” May said.

Page: [[$index + 1]]
comments powered by Disqus