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TTU System Celebrates Ribbon Cutting for Pantex Wind Farm

The Pantex Renewable Energy Project, a collaborative effort with Texas Tech University, is home to the largest federally-owned wind farm in the country.

June 17, 2014 | Contact Dailey Fuller

Pantex Wind FarmRibbon cutting ceremony for the Pantex Renewable Energy Project.

On a windy, but fitting day, officials and partners of the Texas Tech University System celebrated the opening of the Pantex Renewable Energy Project (PREP). The project is home to the largest federally-owned wind farm in the country and is part of an existing research partnership with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Production Office (NPO) and Texas Tech University.

Russell Thomasson, associate vice chancellor for Corporate Engagement at the TTU System, represented the university and system at the event and emphasized how important this project is to Texas Tech's continued leadership in wind energy and research.

“Texas Tech University is proud to be the research partner on the largest federally-owned wind farm in the nation to be funded by industry," Thomasson said. "We hope to attract more industry investment from companies like Siemens Corporation, who can benefit from innovation and research opportunities at the Texas Tech University System."

The ribbon cutting ceremony marked the completion of the five-turbine, 11.5-megawatt wind farm. Other speakers at the ceremony included General Frank Klotz, undersecretary for nuclear security and NNSA administrator, Steve Erhart, manager of the NNSA Production Office, and Judy Marks, president and CEO of Siemens Government Technologies. 

PREP utilized third party financing and is located at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo. 

“This is actually fully financed by industry," Marks said. "We guarantee the savings and through those energy-efficiency savings, we actually funded the construction and the cost of acquiring the turbines, and operating them and maintaining them. There’s no taxpayer dollars. No capital investment. Through those savings we actually get that money back to reinvest.”

The NNSA Pantex Plant is the United States’ primary site for assembly, disassembly and maintenance of nuclear weapons. Its function is to meet and support the strategic mission of the Department of Energy (DOE) to enhance nuclear security through defense, nonproliferation and environmental efforts. As part of that effort, the NNSA and DOE are committed to exploring more renewable energy sources.

The wind farm stretches across 1,500 acres of land adjacent to the plant in Carson County, northeast of Amarillo. The area is rated a 4 according to the Wind Power Classification System, which means it is a good source for wind energy creation. The energy created will provide 100,000 renewable energy credits, and directly supply 60 percent of the annual electricity needed to power the adjacent Pantex plant.

Pantex Wind FarmLt. Gen. (Ret.) Frank Klotze, undersecretary for nuclear security and NNSA administrator, Kevin Knobloch, DOE chief of staff, Steven Erhart, manager of the NNSA Production Office, Judy Marks, president and CEO of Siemens Government Technologies, and Russell Thomasson, associate vice chancellor for Corporate Engagement.  

In addition to providing the majority of the electricity for Pantex operations, PREP will serve as the keystone for an ongoing collaboration with Texas Tech to make Pantex a leader in innovation within the wind energy sector. Texas Tech and the NPO recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding that would combine the resources of DOE/NNSA, Pantex and the National Wind Institute at Texas Tech to study ways to create a world-class energy research center at Pantex.

Texas Tech owns 6,000 acres adjacent to the Pantex Plant. It is leased to the DOE/NNSA, serving as a security buffer for the Pantex Plant. It also is in prime position to gather valuable research data from the new PREP wind farm.

About the Texas Tech University System 
The Texas Tech University System is one of the top public university systems in the state of Texas, consisting of four component institutions—Texas Tech UniversityTexas Tech University Health Sciences CenterAngelo State University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso—and operating at 12 academic sites and centers.  Headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, the TTU System has an annual operating budget of $1.7 billion and approximately 17,000 employees focused on advancing higher education, health care, research and outreach.

In 2013, the TTU System’s endowment passed $1 billion, total research expenditures were approximately $200 million and total enrollment exceeded 44,000 students. Whether it’s contributing billions of dollars annually in economic impact or being the only system in Texas to house an academic institution, law school, and medical school at the same location, the TTU System continues to prove that anything is possible.