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Wind farm pros, cons considered - Officials mull impact on tax base, wildlife

Plans for a wind energy farm in Kenedy County remain in the preliminary stage as county officials mull a proposed tax abatement for the project.

The Penascal Wind Farm is expected to generate 400 megawatts of electricity and would be located south of Baffin Bay on Kenedy Ranch land when it is constructed, which is expected by early 2007.

PPM Energy, an Oregon-based subsidiary of Scottish Power Inc., and Corpus Christi-based American Shoreline Inc. are working together on the project, which has drawn attention to the possible impacts of the project.

According to minutes from recent Kenedy County Commissioners Court meetings, opponents of the project expressed concerns about the protection of wildlife in the area, specifically what the impact of the more than 200-feet long turbines would be on avian life in the area.

Tom "Smitty" Smith, director of the Austin office of Public Citizen, a consumer and environmental watchdog group, said the companies involved have conducted research indicating the long-term impact to wildlife would be minimal.

"I'm an environmentalist first and wind advocate second," Smith said.

"There should be plans for long-term monitoring to make sure there aren't significant bird kills."

Smith said the benefit to wind energy would be enormous.

"Wind is the cheapest form of energy and provides low-cost... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
The Penascal Wind Farm is expected to generate 400 megawatts of electricity and would be located south of Baffin Bay on Kenedy Ranch land when it is constructed, which is expected by early 2007.

PPM Energy, an Oregon-based subsidiary of Scottish Power Inc., and Corpus Christi-based American Shoreline Inc. are working together on the project, which has drawn attention to the possible impacts of the project.

According to minutes from recent Kenedy County Commissioners Court meetings, opponents of the project expressed concerns about the protection of wildlife in the area, specifically what the impact of the more than 200-feet long turbines would be on avian life in the area.

Tom "Smitty" Smith, director of the Austin office of Public Citizen, a consumer and environmental watchdog group, said the companies involved have conducted research indicating the long-term impact to wildlife would be minimal.

"I'm an environmentalist first and wind advocate second," Smith said.

"There should be plans for long-term monitoring to make sure there aren't significant bird kills."

Smith said the benefit to wind energy would be enormous.

"Wind is the cheapest form of energy and provides low-cost energy with no pollution," Smith said.

Marc Cisneros, CEO of the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation, said the project would pay royalties to the John G. Kenedy Jr. Charitable Trust. Cisneros said both the Kenedy Trust and Foundation provide millions of dollars to South Texas charities every year.

"The human factor should be considered," Cisneros said. "We aren't going to do anything that is harmful to wildlife."

Cisneros said wind power would help to eliminate the region's dependency on fossil fuels.

Officials from the King Ranch, who have voiced opposition to the project in the past, could not be reached for comment.

Kenedy County Judge J.A. Garcia said the topic of tax abatement likely would not be placed on the February County Commissioners Court meeting agenda to allow energy officials to present information about the project to county residents.

Jan Johnson, PPM Energy spokeswoman, said the company is working with the community while the tax abatement issue is sorted out.

"We are working with members of the community to make sure everyone knows what the project will look like and what it will mean to the tax base," Johnson said.

Source: http://www.caller.com/ccct/...

FEB 6 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1196-wind-farm-pros-cons-considered-officials-mull-impact-on-tax-base-wildlife
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