Wind farm looking to sprout in Mineral

Commissioner Dennis DeWitt talks about a meeting held with residents in Mineral and representatives from Lincoln Clean Energy about the creation of a wind farm there. Listening during the court’s meeting Monday is County Judge Stephanie Moreno.

MINERAL – Another wind farm could be coming to Bee County.

This time it’s the Mineral area that is drawing the attention of builders.

“Lincoln Clean Energy has the potential of putting a wind farm in north Bee County,” Commissioner Dennis DeWitt said during the commissioners court meeting Monday. “They are looking at leasing 20,000 acres.”

This past Thursday, two representatives from the company met with locals there to answer questions.

According to their information, those under lease for the use of their land “will still be able to enjoy your land in the same manner as before except during the initial construction period that averages roughly 10 months where we will ask landowners to not hunt while workers are present.”

The company also said that their lease doesn’t negate future oil and gas leases by the landowners.

“Leasing your land for wind development will not interfere with any future oil and gas leasing activity,” the company presented in a fact sheet to the residents during that meeting. “We will work with any oil and gas company who wishes to develop your land to ensure both parties are able to successfully implement their plans.

DeWitt said this is just one of the projects under consideration by Lincoln.

“This is a huge company,” he said. “They have many more projects in the United States.”

The company has purchased or developed wind farms in several Texas counties including Scurry, Haskell, Wilbarger and Lynn.

In Mineral, plans are still in the preliminary stages though, as the company remains quiet to the media.

When asked for information prior to the Thursday’s meeting, the public information firm said it had nothing to release.

Eric Barnett, with Lincoln Energy, had preferred nothing be published in the paper about the development. “It opens us up to competition,” he said. “There are other wind farms in the area.

“It might hurt the project and those landowners in it.”

This week Barnett declined comment.

The future of this project is not certain as leases must still be signed by landowners for it to move forward.

“I don’t know whether it is going to go or not,” DeWitt said. “They won’t reveal where they are going to put the wind towers or wind turbines.

“They are looking at 55 to 60 of them.”

Copies of their standard lease were given out to those at that meeting for review.

Included in there is that while anyone under lease would receive compensation, those with actual turbines on their property would receive more.

“It is based on how much the turbines put out,” DeWitt said. “The landowners that have a turbine are guaranteed a minimum of $8,000 to $12,000 minimum per year.”

Nothing as yet has been presented to commissioners.

This is just another in a list of wind energy companies coming to the county in recent months.

Most recently, an area at the Refugio County line, dubbed Island Pasture, is being considered for development. About 7,600 acres in Bee County are being considered while 18,000 acres in Refugio are also included in the project.

Developers of this new wind farm are E.On Climate and Renewables.

According to the memorandum dated April 14, 2016, the wind farm would be named the Blackjack Creek Wind Farm, and the lease would remain in effect for 36 years.

The wind farm would take six years to develop, meaning it could start operations in 2022.

Local entities, including the county, school districts and college board, have approved tax abatements for a wind farm’s construction in the Tynan area.

Avangrid Renewables is constructing this one which will include 24 wind turbines in Bee County. Additional turbines will be installed in San Patricio County, where agreements have also been reached with its tax entities.