For long-time oilman Paul Strunk, wind energy wasn’t much of a stretch from hydrocarbons.
“It is energy,” he noted.
Strunk, a past AAPG treasurer and president of American Shoreline Inc. in Corpus Christi, Texas, said the idea of getting into wind farming came to him in a gust.
One day he was visiting the company’s production facilities near the Gulf Coast city with Patrick Nye, American Shoreline’s vice president of exploration.
“We went over there and the wind was blowing really hard,” Strunk recalled. “We said, ‘Maybe we should look into wind energy’ as kind of a joke.”
No joke. The pair developed the initial plan for the proposed Penascal Wind Farm, a 400-megawatt generation facility on a 191,000-acre lease in Kenedy County, Texas.
First, Strunk said, they obtained wind velocity readings to make sure the plan was feasible.
“It’s like wildcatting,” he said. “We knew the wind blows down here, but we didn’t know the velocities.”
Then the company began working with environmentalists and arranged for an avian-risk assessment, prior to even applying for a development permit.
Scottish Power subsidiary PPM Energy, a major wind-energy developer, later joined the project, which should begin setting up the first of its 260 generator units next year, according to Strunk.
“I was born and raised down here,” Nye said. “One of the worst things going is the coal-fired generating plants,” because of the effects of pollution on the Gulf.
“We think maybe in our own small way we’re contributing to cleaner energy for this area,” he added.
Strunk thinks wind energy will continue its rapid growth as an alternative energy source.
Would his company consider another wind project?
“We’re just getting started,” he said.