UPDATE 2-Pickens' Mesa Power orders GE wind turbines
(Adds detail, comment in paragraphs 6-12)
NEW YORK May 15 (Reuters) - Oil investor T. Boone Pickens' Mesa Power LLP said on Thursday it ordered 667 wind turbines from General Electric Co (GE.N) as part of the $2 billion first phase of a planned Texas wind farm.
It said the turbine order was the world's largest for a single-site wind power development.
The 667 turbines are capable of generating 1,000 megawatts of electricity, enough to power more than 300,000 average U.S. homes, Mesa said in a release.
The four-phase Pampa Wind Project would be the world's largest wind energy generator, with more than 4,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for 1.3 million homes, when completed in 2014, Mesa said.
GE will deliver the 1.5-megawatt wind turbines in 2010 and 2011 to the site in the Texas Panhandle, which has been identified as one of the fastest-growing wind-power-producing regions in the nation over the past decade because of its strong, steady winds.
While attractive for its wind potential, the Texas Panhandle is not connected to the electric grid that serves Texas' largest cities, meaning new transmission lines will have to be built to allow power to flow to electric-consuming areas.
Mesa has already filed a letter with the Texas grid operator indicating it plans to connect the first 1,000 megawatts with the Texas network.
Mesa will look at its options to move additional wind-generated power to markets outside Texas, said a Mesa spokesman.
The state leads the nation with 5,300 megawatts of installed wind generation, an amount expected to swell to more than 9,000 MW by year end.
The grid operator has struggled in recent weeks with reliability issues related to the intermittent nature of wind power and some Texas market participants are beginning to question the need and cost associated with rising levels of wind.
"There is room for more wind, but we don't know what the upper limit is," said Kim Casey, executive vice president at Houston-based Fulcrum Energy.
"You have to balance the economic impact," Casey told members of the Gulf Coast Power Association. "If the cost of natural gas stays where it is, wind generation will be a benefit."
Upon completion, the Pampa project will grow to more than 2,500 turbines, Pickens said.
"It will be about $8 billion in wind turbines and $2 billion in transmission (lines). It will probably be over $10 billion," he told CNBC. (Reporting by Matt Daily and Eileen O'Grady, editing by Gerald E. McCormick, Derek Caney, Gary Hill)
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