Pantex to Become Wind Energy Research Center

  • Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014, 12:00 am


U.S. Department of Energy
National Nuclear Security Administration
Production Office News Release

AMARILLO, Texas -- Officials from the National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office (NPO) and Texas Tech University (TTU) signed an agreement today that could pave the way for the Pantex Plant to become a leading force in the drive to increase use of renewable wind energy.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed today in Lubbock by NNSA Production Office Manager Steven Erhart and TTU Chancellor Kent Hance and University President M. Duane Nellis. The MOU enables both parties to analyze the feasibility of creating a national research center at Pantex that would combine the resources of DOE/NNSA, Pantex and Tech’s National Wind Institute (NWI) to “create a world-class wind energy research center.”

“Pantex has clearly signaled its commitment to lead the way toward a more sustainable energy future for the federal government and the country as a whole,” said NPO Manager Steve Erhart. “The vision laid out in this MOU will build on that commitment and pay huge dividends for decades to come with our longstanding partner Texas Tech University.”

Pantex and Tech have a long historical connection. The property of the original Pantex Ordnance Plant was leased to the university for $1 after the plant closed following the conclusion of World War II. The federal government reacquired some of the land in 1951 to open the Pantex Plant. TTU now owns approximately 6,000 of the Plant’s 18,000 acres, which is farmed for research purposes and used as a security buffer for Pantex.

The core of the agreement signed Thursday is the new Pantex Renewable Energy Project (PREP), a five-turbine, 11.5 megawatt wind farm that is being built on federal land east of the main Pantex Plant. The project is expected to be completed this summer and will provide about 60 percent of the plant’s annual electrical energy needs. Through the MOU, TTU and NWI will receive access to information about PREP and the plant’s energy usage, including operational and output data, which will be used to study ways to make renewable wind energy more reliable and efficient.

“As the site of the largest federally owned wind farm, Pantex is well positioned to be a leader in the federal government’s emphasis for increased use of renewable wind energy,” Erhart said. “Given the historical connection between Tech and Pantex, it makes perfect sense to join our resources together to help secure the energy future for our country and our planet.”

The MOU describes a desire by the signatories to develop a TTU wind energy center that will be built on Tech’s portion of the Pantex land. The center would have access to much of the rest of the open land on the Pantex site to develop a utility-scale wind energy system to support the nation’s long-term energy goals by conducting wind research, contributing to local workforce development and developing wind energy technologies that help resolve the key scientific challenges facing the industry.

The mission of the NNSA Production Office is to ensure the safe, secure and cost-effective operation of the Pantex Plant, Amarillo, Texas, and the Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge, Tennessee.


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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad. Visit for more information.

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Brenda Finley
NNSA Production Office Public Affairs
Office (806) 477-3120

Steven Wyatt
NNSA Production Office Public Affairs
(865) 576-9918