In the late 1990s, West Texas was full of rundown towns and pumpjacks, aging reminders of the oil rush of an earlier era. Today, the towns are thriving as 300-foot-tall wind turbines tower above those pumpjacks. Wind energy has become Texas’s latest boom, with the Lone Star State now leading the nation. How did this dramatic transformation happen in a place that fights federal environmental policies at every turn? In The Great Texas Wind Rush, environmental reporters Kate Galbraith and Asher Price tell the compelling story of a group of unlikely dreamers and innovators, politicos and profiteers.
The tale spans a generation and more, and it begins with the early wind pioneers, precocious idealists who saw opportunity after the 1970s oil crisis. Operating in an economy accustomed to exploiting natural resources and always looking for the next big thing, their ideas eventually led to surprising partnerships between entrepreneurs and environmentalists, as everyone from Enron executives to T. Boone Pickens, as well as Ann Richards, George W. Bush and Rick Perry, ended up backing the new technology. In this down-to-earth account, the authors explain the policies and science that propelled the “windcatters” to reap the great harvest of Texas wind. They also explore what the future holds for this relentless resource that is changing the face of Texas energy.
"The story of how the oil and gas state became the country’s biggest wind state is as compelling as it is unlikely. Kate Galbraith and Asher Price have written a totally engrossing, informative, and timely book that should be required reading for anyone hoping to understand modern Texas, the alternative energy business, or both. The Great Texas Wind Rush offers even more than that, actually. It’s a fascinating account of a new industry’s birth and evolution and all that goes on behind the scenes—the dreaming and sketching, the tinkering and engineering, the political scheming, the deals and compromises, the risks and blind luck, and everything else that it takes to bring a bold vision to life. The great accomplishment of this book is that it takes a deeply important subject and treats it with both the seriousness and the narrative flair it deserves. Among other things, The Great Texas Wind Rush is a damn good read."
Jake Silverstein, Editor-in-Chief, Texas Monthly
"This is new and very contemporary information. In a sense, it is almost a primary source. . . . The authors provide the only account of the recent politics of wind in Texas. No one else has done the interviews and research that tell us how Texas got to where it is today. The authors have done for Texas wind development what Peter Asmus did for California."
Robert Righter, Research Professor of History, Southern Methodist University
"Enjoyable to read. . . . Captures the role of Texas as a policy leader in a way that is instructive for policymakers globally while also meeting standards of rigor that are suitable for academic use and having a narrative that will be of interest to the general reader. I consider myself an energy expert who is very familiar with the story of energy in Texas, yet I learned something on every single page."
Michael Webber, Associate Director, Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy, University of Texas at Austin
"Galbraith and Price understand the wonky side of energy policy, but they also know how to tell a story…The Great Texas Wind Rush is a thoughtful, valuable story for anyone who cares about renewable energy or climate change, because while many people protest the impact of nuclear power, coal power and natural gas fracking, in the end, that's not enough. Vast new sources of power actually have to be built, not just talked about. That won't be cheap, easy or quick, but The Great Texas Wind Rush suggests that over the long haul, it's possible."
The Associated Press
"The authors craft the story well, pulling from legendary tales of the Wild West, romantic literary and artistic accounts from the likes of Cormac McCarthy and Woody Guthrie and the gubernatorial regimes of Ann Richards and George W. Bush."
Environmental Defense Fund's Texas Clean Air Matters blog
"In "The Great Texas Wind Rush," Kate Galbraith and Asher Price tell the strange, inspiring and at times funny story of how a culture known for Big Oil came to embrace Big Wind. Galbraith and Price understand the wonky side of energy policy, but they also know how to tell a story. The backdrops include Austin's Armadillo World Headquarters (a legendary nightclub), a small-town preacher who wanted to power his church with wind, new words (windcatter) and dry Texas humor. "The Great Texas Wind Rush" is a thoughtful, valuable story for anyone who cares about renewable energy or climate change, because while many people protest the impact of nuclear power, coal power and natural gas fracking, in the end, that's not enough. Vast new sources of power actually have to be built, not just talked about. That won't be cheap, easy or quick, but "The Great Texas Wind Rush" suggests that over the long haul, it's possible."