Electricity News Update: Let’s Talk Jobs

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Texas electricity companies employ thousands of Texans in vital jobs that range from maintaining the power lines that deliver electricity to Texas homes and businesses, to finding new ways to expand the use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power. Here are some job-related tidbits that emerged in this month’s Texas electricity news:

‘Sheer Genius’: Solar Power Farm Puts Sheep to Work as Landscapers

Solar power is well-known as a clean, renewable source of energy. But even solar power farms need to keep the grass trimmed – a challenge if collection panels happen to be close to the ground. How do you protect delicate panels and equipment from possible damage by human-operated landscaping machinery, or trim in hard-to-reach areas before grass grows so high it blocks the panels?

Texas Public Radio reports that one enterprising solar farm near San Antonio has brought in 90 sheep to keep the grass trimmed on its 50-acre site. If the test program works out, the sheep could have permanent jobs at both the San Antonio location and a second site south of the city, a company spokeswoman said. So far, the test is going well, the spokeswoman told TPR, and the sheep have been able to keep the grass trimmed, even in areas that would be challenging for humans with mowing equipment.

Dallas Could become Home to Tesla Factory

The Dallas Business Journal reported that North Texas is “in the running” as a possible location for Tesla’s “Gigafactory,” a $5 billion facility expected to employ more than 6,000 people who will make solar panels, energy-saving devices and batteries for use in Tesla’s electric vehicles.

The journal said sources had told it that Tesla is considering a 700-acre parcel off Interstate 45 in southeast Dallas County. Easy access to I-45, I-35 and I-20 and $200 million in planned infrastructure upgrades in the region could make the site attractive for Tesla, the journal noted.

“I don’t think other places we’re competing against can match that,” Michael Morris, director of transportation for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, told the journal. “At this point, we’re just trying to compete. We want to be a legitimate contender.”