Cissy Beasley spoke to commissioners on Monday, saying that she was against the idea of not only the building of the towers but also the court offering a tax abatement to the company doing the construction.
“When I heard about this wind farm, my first reaction was concern for bird-life and those creatures imperiled by the gigantic blades on the wind turbines,” she said.
The site is in the extreme south of the county, roughly where Bee, Live Oak and San Patricio counties meet.
Being a real estate agent, Beasley said that she also was curious what structures like these would do to the property values in the area.
“There are a number of studies that indicate that property values are hurt by the presence of wind turbines,” she said.
Beasley said that these studies indicate that the closer property is to a wind turbine, the more its value decreases.
Couple that with the presence of power transmission lines and values plummet.
“I showed property the other day that had oil and gas mineral interests,” she said. “However, electrical transmission towers were immediately adjacent to the property.”
The potential buyers declined the property because of the towers.
“I have to question if the county granting an abatement to encourage the construction of a wind farm is really in the best interest of county residents from the standpoint of present and future value of real estate.”
On Monday, commissioners were expected to vote not only to designate an area in southern Bee as a reinvestment zone but also to discuss issuing a tax abatement to Lincoln Renewable Energy to construct the wind farm.
Designating the area as a reinvestment zone doesn’t affect property values — it is only a defined area required before a tax abatement can be issued, said Dale Cummings, with Cummings Westlake, who is working with Lincoln Renewable Energy.
In response to a question from Commissioner Eloy Rodriguez, Cummings said, “We are obviously asking for a tax abatement to be competitive with other wind farms in the area that have tax abatements.
“We can do it with or without tax abatements.
“It makes us more competitive with other wind farms that have tax abatements.”
The wind farm won’t sell power to businesses or residents but instead offers it on the wholesale market.
“The goal with any wind farm is to lock into a long-term power purchase agreement with a utility company,” said Will Furgeson, Lincoln development manager. The company they are hoping to work with is South Texas Electric Co-op which has a substation nearby.
There was a snag in the process though.
When developing the meeting’s agenda, county leaders did not include that they would actually vote to approve or disapprove the creation of the zone.
“We have this public hearing, but we have no action item to go with it,” said David Silva, Bee County judge. “So we will have to come back with it.
“I don’t know how we overlooked that.
“Right now, we just have the public hearing. My apologies... We will not be able to take any action on the reinvestment zone.”
Since the commissioners could not vote on the formation of the zone, they could also not vote on the tax abatement.
This will give those concerned about the project more time to research wind farms.
The economics of it
Jimmy Jackson is one of those likely to continue his research into the impact the turbines have on the area.
“The economics of wind farms really don’t work,” he told commissioners Monday during the public forum.
“They are massively subsidized by the federal government.
“The only winners in the whole deal are the people that put them in.”
Just drive west, he said.
“West Texas and the western U.S. are filled with derelict wind farms. The companies go bankrupt, and when it comes time to redo them, the subsidies run out, and they walk off and leave them.”
Furgeson did say that a bond would be in place for the removal of the turbines at the end of their life.
“Obviously, we don’t want the towers sitting there as a liability if there is no power being generated,” he said.
This proposed wind farm would likely mimic those already generating power toward Corpus Christi near Sinton.
“I don’t know how many of you really like to drive to Corpus Christi through Sinton,” Jackson said. “I guess they look kind of neat the first time you see them.”
After a while, he said, that novelty wears off and the massive towers become more of an eyesore.
Hazardous to flight
But for wildlife, they are more than just annoyances.
“We are in the largest migratory bird area in the whole United States,” Jackson said. “Birds migrate at night, and they migrate at low altitudes.
“Mortality studies are very difficult to perform because you have scavengers that live underneath the wind farms, and they pick up the dead birds.”
As this is a free country, he knows he cannot stop the wind farms. But that doesn’t mean commissioners have to offer an abatement to Lincoln.
“At a minimum, we cannot do anything about it,” he said. “So far, U.S. Fish and Wildlife hasn’t done anything to stop this killing of birds which they should, but it is politically correct for green energy to allow these people to continue to operate. But it makes no economic sense.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.