Articles filed under Impact on Landscape from Texas
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."
When LCRA announced the plan for its renewable energy transmission line from San Angelo to Comfort, Kimble County residents formed Clear View Alliance, Inc. Clear View's mission is to create a working relationship with LCRA to achieve environmentally responsible routing and construction methods. Let me be clear at this point: Clear View is not making NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) arguments as to the location of the transmission line despite the fact one LCRA representative, Krista Umscheid-Ramirez, wants to frame our mission in this manner.
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.
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.
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.
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.
SWEETWATER, Texas | Now, as more than a century ago, the wind that whips constantly through this stretch of West Texas leaves the local community divided.
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.
Petitions asking local citizens to oppose private power line construction are being collected this week by volunteers in six Hill Country counties. "We're going to try to collect as many signatures as we can by Nov. 15; then we will hand deliver the petitions to the powers that be in Austin," Suzy Stewart who has helped organize the petition drive, said. Ms. Stewart is working with a Harper-based steering committee that held a public meeting Thursday to organize opposition to possible power line construction by Florida Power and Light Energy.
More than 100 citizens voted to oppose power line construction in northwest Gillespie County during a public meeting attended by more than 200 people Thursday evening in Harper. The meeting was the second held there in four weeks after more than 150 residents met Aug. 21 to learn more about plans by Midland-based Hilliard Energy to lease land for possible construction of a private transmission line in that part of the county. "I think there's a lot of pressure coming from Hilliard Energy," said Martha Stevens who is on a citizens committee which opposes construction. "They're not going to lease this land if they're not going to use it, I wouldn't think."
Hill Country residents have raised multiple concerns about new transmissions lines that will be installed to deliver wind energy across Texas. In July, the Public Utilities Commission approved a plan called "Scenario 2" that maps out the general route companies will follow when installing transmission lines. The lines will carry energy from wind farms in West Texas to Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Ft. Worth. ...Final proposals from interested companies must be submitted by Sept. 12. The PUC will make their final selections in January 2009.
About 150 landowners and concerned residents met in Harper Thursday to discuss possible construction of a private electric transmission line through Gillespie County. "We basically wanted to get together and pool our information," Martha Stevens, who helped organize the meeting, said. "We live in an awfully pretty part of Texas, and there are important questions we need to ask." Landowners are concerned, Ms. Stevens said, that construction of power lines will diminish property values and harm the Hill Country's appeal to tourists.
Kerr County may soon play a part in transmitting wind energy from West Texas and the Panhandle to other parts of the state. But what it will take to transport the "green" energy may have some Hill Country residents seeing red. Four companies have shown interest in building a large, double circuit 345-kilovolt transmission line for the Public Utility Commission of Texas project. ... According to Robert Weatherford, president of Save Our Scenic Hill Country Environment Inc., another transmission line might be in the works.
For now, wind power's triumphant march in the U.S. can count on another legal smackdown of "NIMBYism," after a Texas appeals court yesterday dismissed a suit by landowners upset with a big wind farm built by FPL Energy. Landowners decried the turbines' noise and their spoiled sunsets-which the court agreed was a pity-but the appeals court couldn't find grounds to rule against the power company. ...Congress is meant to reconvene next month for yet another attempt at renewing clean-energy tax credits. But does it have any recipe to make clean energy more appealing to the folks who hate it?
Before the 2006 trial, the judge wouldn't let plaintiffs argue that the towering turbines were a nuisance based on their blinking lights or how they looked. After the two-week trial in which noise levels and land values were discussed, jurors ruled in favor of FPL Energy. In a ruling issued Thursday, the 11th Court of Appeals said the trial judge did not err because Texas law "does not provide a nuisance action for aesthetical impact." But the appeals court seemed sympathetic to landowners.