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Featured: A wind turbine generator, or alternatively referred to as a wind energy converter, is a device that converts the wind’s kinetic energy into electrical energy. Texas produces the most wind power of any U.S. state. If Texas were a country, it would rank fifth in the world. During 2020, wind is on track to generate 10 percent of the country’s electricity, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Photograph Courtesy AMERICAN WIND ENERGY ASSOCIATION

Featured: A wind turbine generator, or alternatively referred to as a wind energy converter, is a device that converts the wind’s kinetic energy into electrical energy. Texas produces the most wind power of any U.S. state. If Texas were a country, it would rank fifth in the world. During 2020, wind is on track to generate 10 percent of the country’s electricity, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

Photograph Courtesy AMERICAN WIND ENERGY ASSOCIATION

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Rep. Canales/Sen. Creighton protect Texas landowners, especially farmers and ranchers, by setting key standards for decommissioning of wind turbine generators by wind project owners

By DAVID A. DÍAZ
Legislativemedia@aol.com

Owners of wind turbine generators that produce electricity for sale are now governed under a state law successfully proposed by Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, which sets out an agreement structure that regulates the removal of wind power facilities and provides for financial assurances covering the removal, according to the House Research Organization.

The House Research Organization is the nonpartisan research arm of the Texas House of Representatives.

The measure, House Bill 2845, authored by Canales and sponsored by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, became state law on Sunday, September 1, 2019.

“I appreciate the Advanced Power Alliance, a wind industry group, and wind companies from across Texas for coming to the table and working with my office to create what I see as model legislation for the nation,” Canales said. “This legislation will only help the growth of wind production in Texas, ensuring that our state continues to see increased clean wind generation in our state.”

The Advanced Power Alliance is the industry trade association created to promote the development of these energy resources as clean, reliable, affordable, and infinite sources of power, according to its website (https://poweralliance.org/about/).

“House Bill 2845 created a minimum standard for wind turbine contracts in Texas so that when a turbine hits the end of it’s useful life, we know that the turbine will be fully decommissioned, meaning that operators will clear, clean, and remove all traces of the wind farm, including the turbines, the concrete foundation they are installed on, and basically all of the things which can sometimes be found around a wind turbine,” added Canales, who also serves as Chair of the House Committee on Transportation.

A wind turbine generator, or alternatively referred to as a wind energy converter, is a device that converts the wind’s kinetic energy into electrical energy. Texas produces the most wind power of any U.S. state. IfTexas were a country, it would rank fifth in the world. During 2020, wind is on track to generate 10 percent of the country’s electricity, according to the American Wind Energy Association.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind_power_in_Texas

“We have thousands and thousands of turbines in Texas,” he added. “I am hoping this legislation is a step towards ensuring we never have a problem down the line. In Texas, we are still dealing with old orphaned oil and gas wells. I never want to see Texas in that place because of turbines.”

House Bill 2845 established requirements for wind power facility agreements, including provisions related to decommissioning and facility removal bonds, the House Research Organization further noted. A wind power facility agreement would mean a lease agreement between a grantee and a landowner that authorized the grantee to operate a wind power facility on the leased property, where a grantee was a person who operated a wind power facility on property leased from a landowner.

As the author (also called the primary author), Canales was the legislator who filed House Bill 2845 and guided it through the legislative process. 

As the sponsor, Creighton was the legislator who guided House Bill 2845 through the legislative process in the Senate after Canales passed the measure in the House of Representatives.

“Texas leads the nation in wind power production, accounting for around one-fourth of all wind-generation in the entire country,” Canales said. “As wind power becomes more widespread across rural Texas, I think it is important that we establish in statute protections for landowners, who are in many cases farmers or ranchers leasing out their land for the construction of turbines.”

He explained that the issue was first brought to his attention in 2015 by then-Rep. Susan King, R-Abilene.

“This bill idea came from conversations with former Rep. King and her staff,” he recalled. “She had a wind turbine that started a fire on her property and the company was slow to remove it. Companies should be responsible for removal of non-functional turbines, not the landowner.”

Also according to the House Research Organization, supporters of Canales’ legislation:

• Ensures that wind power projects are properly decommissioned at the end of their useful lives at the owner’s expense by requiring the agreement to include that the project owner would provide a landowner with financial assurance securing its obligations to remove the facilities;

• This requirement would give landowners, communities, and other entities further assurance that if these facilities were abandoned or the company went bankrupt, taxpayers would not carry the financial burden; and

• Although some contend that requiring provisions related to facility removal in agreements is unnecessary, House Bill 2845 was needed to establish best practices and increase transparency in the wind project decommissioning process. 

The full text of the House Research Organization’s bill analysis, which was provided to state representatives and to the public on the day House Bill 2845 was set for debate and action by the House of Representatives, is available online at:

https://hro.house.texas.gov/pdf/ba86r/hb2845.pdf#navpanes=0

There was one change, known as an amendment, that was made to House Bill 2845 before the vote was taken on Tuesday, April 30, 2019, by the House of Representatives, but which is not included in the bill analysis by the House Research Organization bill analysis, he said. 

“My amendment clarifies language around removing cables under the ground that reduces the time the landowner has to ask for land remediation after the turbine ends it’s useful life and clarifies language around the financial assurance that a landowner receives to ensure that the turbine is removed,” Canales said.

House Bill 2845 was approved by the Senate on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, and signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday, June 14, 2019.

FORMER MCALLEN CITY COMMISSIONER HILDA SALINAS SELECTED AS ASSISTANT CHIEF OF STAFF FOR HIDALGO COUNTY JUDGE CORTÉZ

Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortéz on Tuesday, February 25, 2020, announced the appointment of former District 3 McAllen City Commission Hilda Escochea Salinas, who also served as McAllen Mayor Pro Tem, as Assistant Chief of Staff.

Salinas did not seek reelection in May 2017, after having served 16 years on the McAllen City Commission.
She was on the McAllen City Commission when Cortéz was McAllen Mayor from 2005 through 2009, and when he was elected District 1 McAllen city commissioner in 2015.

As Assistant Chief of Staff, Salinas comes with 30 years of expertise in serving a culturally diverse population, according to the county judge.

Salinas is a graduate of McAllen High School, and the University of Texas Rio Grande, formerly known as Pan American University where she earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.

“Serving the public has been my life mission and I am grateful to continue doing so by serving the people of Hidalgo County,” said Salinas.

The county judge also announced the appointment of Laura Matamoros as Director of Economic Development.

Matamoros served as the Director of Business Research & Strategy for the Greater Brownsville Incentives Corporation, the Type-A Economic Development arm for the City of Brownsville, an organization focused on creating primary jobs in the greater Brownsville region. 

“I am both honored and excited to serve as the Economic Development Director for Hidalgo County. One of our primary goals is to further expand the prosperity of the region by creating a collaborative culture between the county and its municipalities,” said Matamoros. “I hope to further create positive economic growth and continue to support employment opportunities for the greater Hidalgo County area.”

She was the Director of Operations for the United Brownsville Coordinating Board, a non-profit organization created to facilitate the implementation of the Imagine Brownsville Comprehensive Plan, and is a graduate from the University of Texas at Brownsville, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree.

“We are very proud to have both of these stellar individuals on our team as we continue working quickly and efficient for our constituents,” said Cortéz.

STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION GIVES PRELIMINARY APPROVAL TO AFRICAN AMERICAN STUDIES COURSE

Texas is poised to become the fifth state in the country to approve a state-level African American Studies course for high school after the State Board of Education on Friday, January 31, 2020, approved the course on a preliminary vote.

The board approved the one-credit elective high school social studies course for first reading and filing authorization. 

The proposed course will next move to a formal public comment period scheduled for Friday, March 6, 2020, to Friday, April 10, 2020. After gathering this feedback and making any necessary adjustments, the course will be considered for final approval at the board’s Friday, April 17, 2020 meeting.

“I’m proud of what this board has done for ethnic studies both in the past for Mexican American Studies and what we are currently doing for African American Studies,” said SBOE Chair Keven Ellis.

The state course is based on an innovative course created by the Dallas Independent School District. The course, implemented for the first time this school year, is currently being taught at 16 DISD schools.

The course offers a broad overview of the history and culture of African Americans and covers topics such as history, citizenship, culture, economics, science, technology, geography and politics.

Currently, North Carolina, Arkansas, Florida, and Tennessee are the only other states to have a state-approved elective course in African American history.

This course would become the second ethnic studies course approved by the SBOE. It approved a one-credit elective course in Mexican American Studies in 2018.

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Evana Vleck contributed to this report. For more on this and other Texas legislative news stories that affect the Rio Grande Valley metropolitan region, please log on to Titans of the Texas Legislature (TitansoftheTexasLegislature.com).

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