Editor:

Texas faces a long road ahead as we begin to confront the economic impacts of the downturn of the oil and gas market as well as the economic impacts of the coronavirus. Bee County leaders have an excellent opportunity to grow the local economy and expand their tax base with the development of the Helena Wind Farm. We encourage them to take advantage of this opportunity because it will reduce the tax burden on local residents and stimulate the regional economy. 

Rarely are rural communities in Texas on the receiving end of such a tremendous capital investment like the Helena Wind Farm. The project represents a substantial capital expenditure of approximately $300 million overall and will generate more than $50 million in local tax revenues through the project’s life, including an estimated $20 million to the Pawnee Independent School District. 

That new revenue, as a direct result of this clean energy project, will help pay for local road improvements, emergency and first responder services and upgrades for local schools. Not to mention the approximately $100 million that will be paid directly to local landowners through the life of the project. 

Some opponents of the project have been raising inaccurate claims about property values adjacent to wind farms. The most recent study was done in 2019 by Dr. Erin M. Kiella with the Texas A&M Real Estate Center. Her study concluded there is “no statistical evidence of adverse property value effects due to views of or proximity to wind turbines.” 

In addition, the study also proved “neither the view of wind energy facilities nor the distance of the home to those facilities was found to have any consistent, measurable, and significant effect on the selling prices of nearby homes.” On the contrary, the study found that “property values increased due to the facilities driving economic investment and tax revenue which benefited all surrounding property owners.” (source: https://assets.recenter.tamu.edu/Documents/presentations/EK-Land20190425.pdf)

Many Texas counties that have historically been blessed with abundant oil & gas deposits are waking up to the dangerous pitfalls of “having all your eggs in one basket”. Broadening the tax base to include large scale renewable energy projects will help the county diversify its tax base and make the county less susceptible to economic downturns. 

As conservatives, we believe in an “all-of-the-above” approach to energy policy and strongly support fundamental private property rights. Bee County property owners deserve the right to lease their own land for renewable energy production or however they best deem fit. This project will provide a resource by which many residents can continue to own and operate family farms and ranches. 

Matt Welch, State Director

Conservative Texans for Energy Innovation