The two largest universities in Texas own hundreds of thousands of acres across West Texas—and the University of Texas and Texas A&M are increasingly leasing that land to solar and wind operations.
As The Daily Texan reports, the two universities combined control over 2.1 million acres of land statewide. The universities have often fueled their growth in the past by leasing acreage to oil and natural gas producers.
But now, as renewable energy becomes more economically viable, the institutions are rethinking their strategies. The shift comes with its own pitfalls, however; renewable contracts run for longer terms than fossil-fuel contracts, and that can make them more risky.
Alyssa Ray, associate director of University Lands—the entity that manages the university land holdings—explains: “Oil and gas have been around for a long time, and we assume it’s going to be for a while longer. Wind and solar are a little more uncertain of a market.”