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Water pipeline plan suspended indefinitely

Lubbock_Billionaire and wind energy advocate T. Boone Pickens has suspended indefinitely plans for a water pipeline project aimed at shipping water from the sole aquifer in the Texas Panhandle to thirsty cities downstate.

Pickens is continuing to pursue rights of way for electric transmission lines to carry power generated by a planned wind farm billed as the world's largest.

The initial transmission lines for Mesa Power will carry 1,000 megawatts of power from the wind farm, which will eventually generate 4,000 megawatts, along a 170-mile route. The transmission lines were expected to be up and runniing by 2011, said Jay Rosser, a spokesman for Pickens.

Rosser said that though the pipeline is on hold, discussions with potential buyers of the water from the Ogallala Aquifer continue.

"It is not in the near term we believe we will have a buyer and (we) wanted to focus foursquare on the wind project and the power project," Rosser said.

The water project began more than six years ago by several Panhandle landowners and Pickens, who in recent weeks has spent $58 million on television ads touting wind energy as an option to oil, especially foreign sources.

The indefinite suspension of the Mesa Water Inc. pipeline has nothing to do with a Department of Justice ruling in August on the Roberts County Fresh Water Supply district that was created in November, Rosser said.

The Justice Department ruling blocked changes to Texas law that helped create the Panhandle fresh water district, which is dominated by employees of Pickens.

The changes approved last session in the state House and Senate allowed property owners in a fresh water district, even if they don't live there, to serve on the board. Previous law required board supervisors be registered, resident voters.

Rosser said capacity on Pickens' Mesa Power LLP transmission lines could be sold to other electricity providers.

Earlier this year, the state approved spending billions of dollars to build transmission lines for wind energy production. But Pickens' wind farm will be up and running before the state's lines are built, Rosser said.

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