By: Chris Ramirez |
Massive growth in wind energy may provide the Port of Corpus Christi with an additional revenue stream during a time when oil and other nonrenewable fuels are taking a hit, port officials said.
The big problem, however, is that storage space is going fast.
Maggie Iglesias-Turner, the port’s general cargo and tariff manager, told port commissioners Tuesday activity has been steadily increasing at Cargo Docks 8 and 9, the port’s chief loading and unloading areas for turbines, blades and other wind-energy equipment. The trend parallels a sharp increase in the wind-energy industry, both nationally and statewide, that experts are calling a “Wind Rush.”
Commissioners may want to explore finding more land for inbound wind-energy equipment in anticipation of growth, she said.
Texas ranks first in the country for both installed and under-construction wind capacity, while supporting roughly 18,000 wind-related jobs. The wind energy industry last year invested $3 billion in Texas, a state home to at least 46 wind energy manufacturing facilities, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
A total of 10.6 percent of the state’s electricity comes from wind energy, up from 6 percent six years ago, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.
That growth, however, has come at a cost.
Scores of wind turbine pieces have been sent to the area this year. They’ve gobbled up valuable waterfront property at the port until the companies that ordered them ship them to wind farms elsewhere.
Sometimes the wait can be a few weeks. Sometimes it’s as long as a year, even two.
A year ago, the port had, on average, about 85 acres available along the Corpus Christi Turning Basin to store materials. Today, it has less than 6 acres available.
Iglesias-Turner told the commission other land west of Cargo Dock 9, including the port’s Permian Yard, could be used as open storage if the authorized by the commission.
Meantime, the port has been using undeveloped parts of Rincon Industrial Park, a 200-acre parcel on the north side of the Corpus Christi Ship Channel.
Jarl Pedersen, the port’s chief commercial officer, said port staff expects the growth to continue, after having met with various wind-energy manufacturers and suppliers in months. The port is in a position to benefit.
“Oil and gas goes hand-in-hand with wind energy,” Pedersen said.