Impact on Landscape and Texas
"In 2009, we passed an ordinance that stated, wind energy turbines would only be allowed in commercial and industrial districts," said Danny Cornelius Canyon Code Enforcer Director.
Even then, a specific use permit must be approved by the planning and zoning and city commission.
"We attribute this warming primarily to wind farms," the study said. The temperature change could be due to the effects of the energy expelled by farms and the movement and turbulence generated by turbine rotors, it said.
"These changes, if spatially large enough, may have noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate," the authors said.
Despite long-standing interest in the environmental impacts of such large-scale alternative energy installations, this is the first time anyone has measured how wind turbines can alter local temperatures over the long term, the scientists said. So far, the scientists don't know if these higher temperatures affect local rainfall or other weather patterns.
An environmental group outlined concerns Wednesday on how proposed offshore wind farms, poised to become the first in the Texas, might negatively affect wildlife.
Baryonyx Corp. wants to install 200 wind turbines each in three areas off the South Texas coast, one of which is planned for the Coastal Bend. The group's comments to the Army Corps of Engineers illustrate why the project is likely to be one of the state's most scrutinized wind energy developments.
"The nation is about to confront a major infrastructure-transmission discussion," said Michael Webber, an engineering professor at the University of Texas at Austin. "And if it's hard in Texas, where we're good at it and we have experience and we've figured out funding models, what's it going to be like in the nation? It might be a very bruising fight."
Property owners from all across the Hill Country are worried that saving the environment might mean destroying their view, their investments and their quality of life. ..."The state has made a policy of moving wind energy from where the wind blows to where people live, but we have to do it in a way that respects landowners," said Barry T. Smitherman, Public Utility Commission chairman.
Sharyland Utilities, a unit of Hunt Consolidated, is one of the companies building a web of transmission lines to bring West Texas wind power to Dallas and other big cities. ...But Sharyland has proposed stringing one of the lines across the Palo Duro Canyon. ...Under three of five basic scenarios, the line would go from rim to rim of the second-largest canyon in the country. ...The Palo Duro Canyon power line is a dramatic example of the type of friction that accompanies the siting of many transmission lines. Other utilities building the wind lines face their own community concerns.
PUC spokesman Terry Hadley said he expects most of the wind transmission lines to face opposition.
Jennifer Harris, Laughlin Air Force Base chief of asset optimization, told members of the City of Del Rio-Val Verde County Joint Airport Zoning Board during a meeting Wednesday, “Laughlin Air Force Base is concerned that the proposed wind farm in the Anacacho Mountain Range (in Kinney County) may have a significant negative impact on its core flying mission.”
Harris told Joint Airport Zoning Board members that Laughlin does not oppose the development of wind farms and other sources of renewable energy sources “that do not adversely impact military readiness or training of U.S. armed forces.”
The Hill Country's natural beauty is under assault, some say, all in the name of supplying power to the masses.
Last week, Rep. Harvey Hilderbran asked the Texas Public Utility Commission to consider routing new transmission lines down U.S. 277 and east along Interstate 10 to the lift station in Comfort to minimize the impact to private property owners. ..."I understand the need to distribute power efficiently and effectively to all areas of Texas," Hilderbran said in a letter to the PUC. "But not at the expense of diminishing property values and the pristine views of the Hill County."
The Competitive Renewable Energy Zone transmission lines proposed to pass through West and Central Texas have a number of ranchers and small town dwellers up in arms about the effect the 200-foot-tall lattice towers would have on the scenic Texas Hill Country.
The Lower Colorado River Authority-Transmission Services Corp. proposes to construct three new, double-circuit, bundled conductor, 345-kilovolt transmission lines, primarily on double-circuit-capable lattice structures.
The office announced Thursday that it has reached an agreement with Baryonyx Corp., a Houston-based green energy company, that could turn waters off the island coast into the nation's biggest wind farm.
Baryonyx Corp. was the sole bidder for the right to build a wind farm off the island's eastern shore, GLO spokesman Jim Suydam said.
Karlen Hardy's home on Farm Road 126 is built with a panel of glass windows to give her the best view of the hills.
"During the daylight, I see the generators, and at night I see the red lights," Hardy said. "It looks like alien spaceships coming through the window.
"The lines will totally destroy our view," she added.
But Catherine Cuellar, Oncor spokeswoman, said the importance of the transmission lines outweighs the aesthetic worries.
"I definitely think that as time passes, the visual impact diminishes," she said.
Having dodged wind farms near Enchanted Rock, those intent on preserving the beauty and property values in and around this Hill Country city are now focused on power lines.
About 250 people met here Wednesday night to hear Texas Wildlife Association speakers discuss major new power lines planned to deliver electricity to metropolitan areas from huge wind farms being developed in West Texas and the Panhandle.
A plan to bring energy from West Texas wind turbines to population centers in East Texas has some Hill Country residents crying foul. KUT's Mose Buchele has details on what's got them worried.
"If you have a turbine going up near a cotton field, no problem: farmers will take money and be happy with it. But if you want to put up a turbine near Enchanted Rock, that is a different deal," says David Langford, Texas Wildlife Association's CEO and owner of a six-generation ranch in the Hill Country.
"Is the potential benefit worth the probable negative impact on scenic views, tourism and land values?" asks Robert Weatherford.
Several Maxdale and Ding Dong residents are opposing a proposed power line project for aesthetic and financial reasons.
"I live in the country; nobody out here wants this," said Sherry Fisher, a landowner with 450 acres of pristine ranch land that may be disturbed by the new towers.
Two weeks ago, Oncor sent newsletters to landowners whose land could be crossed by towers.
Despite the attraction of wind as a nearly pollution-free power source, a Texas Tech University wildlife ecologist cautions that a tsunami of modern wind turbines dotting the South Plains of Texas could have as yet unknown ecological consequences on criti
And there are plenty of playas on the Texas High Plains and in Eastern New Mexico - approximately 22,000, in fact. Indeed, it's the largest concentration in the world. Playas act as natural water storage sites, providing irrigation water and seasonally recharging the Ogallala, the nation's largest aquifer.
After years of battling environmentalists worried about the mixture of towering windmills and one of the world's busiest migratory bird flyways, Babcock & Brown opened its wind farm on the Kenedy Ranch.
The wind farm will sport a bird radar detection system that company officials tout as the first of its kind. The system can automatically stop the blades if the potential for a mass bird kill is detected.
Despite the protests of environmental advocates who spent months trying to halt the projects, two large-scale wind farms in South Texas are now operational.
Many of the approximately 250 wind turbines that were expected to dot about 20,000 acres of Kenedy Ranch, north of Raymondville, are up and spinning ...Seeing the turbines starting to spin is worrisome, Kittelberger said.
"I think they were built without public input, and built (with developers) knowing they would kill thousands of birds," he said.