Alan Alexander, a former student who continues to work with me on several projects, has just published a superb note, “The Texas Wind Estate: Wind as a Natural Resource and a Severable Property Interest.” Looking at Texas, a historic leader in energy law, the note draws lessons from management of other resources such as oil, gas, and water in proposing legal reforms for property rights in wind. This is an increasingly important area of the law, as wind energy becomes more viable and valuable, and there are many comparisons with water law. The full citation is Alan J. Alexander, “The Texas Wind Estate: Wind as a Natural Resource and a Severable Property Interest,” 44 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 429 (2011), and the note is available online through SSRN. Here’s the full abstract:
In 2011, Texas is again at the forefront of an energy boom: the wind energy boom. In 2006, Texas surpassed California and became the U.S. state with the most installed capacity to produce wind energy, and Texas’ level of installed capacity has continued to grow. But the law has not kept pace with this growth. Similar to the initial growth of the oil and gas industry in Texas, the wind energy industry was also born, and continues to grow, in the absence of clear legal and regulatory standards. Lack of regulation in the early development of the oil industry contributed to oversupply and rampant waste of oil. Similarly, lack of regulation of the developing wind energy industry could lead to wasteful practices regarding wind energy development. This Note argues that the Texas Legislature should pass laws clarifying that wind is a natural resource under the Texas Constitution, and that to promote “[t]he conservation and development” of wind as a natural resource, the Legislature should statutorily recognize wind rights as an interest severable from land ownership.