Articles filed under Impact on People from Texas
Monday's Commissioner's Court meeting began as usual with public forum, but a lengthy, animated discussion with members of the gallery regarding action on a proposed county tax abatement for the Senate Wind Project lasted in excess of 90 minutes.
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.
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.
Local property owners and residents addressed Jack County commissioners during the public forum portion of Commissioners Court Feb. 9 to petition them for assistance with noise abatement for the 60-turbine Barton Chapel Wind Farm. Tom Fillene pleaded with commissioners to take a trip down to the area and listen for themselves to the "obnoxious noise" coming from the 400-plus foot "monsters." Fillene stated he was speaking on behalf of other family members who lived under the wind turbines and were experiencing health issues due to the noise coming from the giant towers.
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.
Opposition continues to grow against a high-powered transmission line proposed to run through parts of Gillespie and Kerr counties. A steering committee in Harper and other concerned citizens opposing the private transmission lines have met several times in the past few months and are encouraging landowners to resist leasing utility easements. ...Hilliard Energy is attempting to acquire a series of contiguous 180-foot utility easements for Florida Power and Light Energy to build a private 345 kilovolt line from Taylor County to Comfort.
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?
Patricia LaPoint said she wasn't surprised Thursday when an appeals court sided with the wind industry and upheld a lower court ruling that people can't sue simply because they hate the way wind turbines look or sound. "It's not surprising given the politics of wind energy in the state of Texas," said LaPoint, one of a group of rural Taylor County landowners who sued and claimed FPL Energy created a public nuisance by erecting unpleasant-looking and noisy wind turbines at the company's Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center. LaPoint's group claimed noisy turbines lowered their property values and stamped out their picturesque views.
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.
Folks in several nearby towns, about 100 miles southwest of Dallas, are fighting to make sure the same thing doesn't happen to them. ...They say the companies are swooping in -- even into areas that aren't as windy -- because federal tax credits for wind developers expire at year's end unless Congress extends the subsidy. Opponents also are holding meetings and erecting yard signs protesting turbines, disputing that wind energy works at all. ...They say that unreliability isn't worth sacrificing their scenic vistas and high property values.
It is clear the majority of commissioners court is in favor of allowing the wind farm to go up in northern Young County. From a government perspective, the choice is easy. By agreeing to waive some of the property tax for 10 years, commissioners will see the income to the county rise by between $200,000 and $400,000 each year. ...While wind farms are often beneficial to property owners who lease their land, they are frequently hated by other land owners. The bottom line is putting 40 or 50 wind generators up in Young County will drastically change the scenic view many people have become accustomed to. If you want an example of what you may see, just drive down Highway 16 South toward Possum Kingdom Lake and look at the windmills sitting south of Bryson.
"It makes a terrible air raid noise," says Debbie Behrens, about the high-pitched whine made by the turbine. "It's driving me crazy." What's worse, is that Debbie and her son Lance both say that high-pitched hum is now causing them problems, physically. "You occasionally have the dizziness," explains Lance, "The ringing in the ears, I've never experienced the ringing in the ears." It turns out, there is a documented health condition associated with the noise generated by some windmills called: Wind turbine Syndrome. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, nausea and ringing in the ears -- known as tinnitus.
Wind farms are becoming an increasingly popular way to generate green energy, but little is known about the ecological and socioeconomic effects of the towering windmills that have begun to dot parts of the landscape. What impact do the tall structures have on the birds and bats in the area? How do the wind farms affect local economies and governmental policy? And what do residents living in communities that are home to the farms think? Two Texas A&M University researchers have been tapped to join a study that is trying to determine those answers.
Nearly all of some 175 landowners raised their hands during a meeting here Friday when a West Texas lawmaker asked how many wanted legislators to oppose billionaire T. Boone Pickens' efforts to obtain rights of way for water pipeline and electricity transmission lines. The lines would also pass through parts of Archer, Hardeman, Jack, Wichita and Wilbarger counties. A similar meeting has been scheduled Thursday in Holliday. One landowner shouted "Do it," during the show of hands urging lawmakers fight Pickens' attempts to obtain rights of way to build the world's largest wind farm and to ship water from the Panhandle to thirsty areas downstate. No one - not even Pickens' representatives - raised their hands when state Sen. Bob Duncan asked who wanted lawmakers to support the projects.
Two wind farms, part of a $2 billion project, have been proposed near Hebbronville, just east of Laredo. Corpus Christi-based American Shoreline and its partner, San Diego, Calif.-based Eviva Spinnaker, plan to develop the 800-megawatt wind project. It calls for 400 turbines about 350 feet tall spread out over 35,000 acres in Jim Hogg, Webb and Zapata counties. The electricity that would be generated from the two wind farms would power about 220,000 homes. The project recently was announced and has not received vocal opposition. But if vocal opposition toward two Kenedy County wind projects is any indication, there soon will be. Kenedy County is about 100 miles south of Corpus Christi.