Monday, July 9, 2007

the sweetwater project

Greg Wortham, mayor of Sweetwater and executive director of the West Texas Wind Consortium, stands among dozens of wind turbines on a ranch near Nolan, Texas. In 2004, Wortham left his career as an energy lawyer and spent his retirement savings to found the West Texas Wind Consortium.

Rebecca Gunn stands at the base of turbine WTG-G69-F8, one of 28 such structures that now occupy the Ussery Ranch. Gunn's great grandparents, the Usserys, purchased the land in the late 1800s.

I spent the weekend in Sweetwater working on a photo package on wind energy, a force that has transformed a ranching town of 11,000 into a renewable energy powerhouse. Wind has brought 200 new jobs a day and millions of dollars of investment into the small West Texas hamlet. There's even talk of getting a Starbucks.

Anyway, because I'm a photo editor, I don't feel comfortable taking the cool assignments and leaving everyone else with crap, so I brought along two photographers from the staff. That made for a good mix, by my count: three photographers and one reporter piled into a beat-to-hell 2005 Dodge Grand Caravan for the 500-mile weekend.

This is the group package.

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