Articles from Texas
As attractive a renewable-energy concept as wind power is, it's plagued by a fundamental flaw. It blows the most in the dead of night, precisely when there's the least demand for electricity. That's true for just about every windblown spot nationwide, from the foothills of the Tehachapi Mountains in California to the coastal plains of North Carolina.
"Maintaining the ability to train Naval Aviators (sic) requires a safe operating environment with adequate airspace ... and supporting infrastructure such as outlying landing fields and weapons ranges," said Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy James Balocki. "Continued development may eventually overcome our ability to operationally adapt or consider feasible and affordable mitigation actions."
Nueces County Judge Loyd Neal and Wes Hoskins, chairman of the South Texas Military Facility Task Force, recalled being told if Senate Bill 277, or something substantially similar didn't pass, the bases would likely be candidates for closure in the next few years. Hoskins said federal officials told them, "encroachment is the No. 1 issue in the nation (facing military installations), and Texas is in trouble."
Officials with Southern Company, which owns the turbine, said it started around 5:30 p.m. at the company's Salt Fork Wind Facility.
Lieutenant Colonel Matt Manning says the biggest danger comes within 25 miles because that's when training aircraft are at their lowest altitudes as they're being brought back by air traffic controllers to base.
Legislation to limit tax incentives to build wind power plants near Texas military aviation facilities cleared the Texas House on Monday, despite determined opposition from conservative property-rights advocates and many Democrats in the state’s urban centers.
A room full of protestors attended the Hamilton Independent School District board of directors meeting Monday to speak out against a wind farm application.
“Right now customers with residential distributed generation have reduced their electric delivery charges without reducing the cost to deliver it,” Bailey said. Oncor claims that the personal savings that solar and wind customers are benefiting from have resulted in an increased cost to the rest of its residential customers, effectively raising rates by as much as $2 million.
We must do everything we can to protect our military communities from the next round of base closures. With 15 military installations in Texas, our state has a huge target on its back. If encroaching wind farms make it harder to meet training goals, Texas will have to surrender jobs and missions to other states where wind turbines do not pose a problem. That would be a devastating blow to the cities that have developed around our bases, and I have no plans to surrender such assets.
Mayor Santellana said that he wants to see the military grow and not shrink. He added that anything that affects Sheppard affects the city and they will do whatever they have to, to stop it.
Col. Manning is the latest in a litany of Texas military leaders appearing before the state Legislature asking for help. Capt. Mark McLaughlin, former commanding officer at Naval Air Station Kingsville, started the parade when in 2011 he appeared numerous times before various committees pointing out the concern he had with wind farm developments around his base.
A years long battle over the wind farm some feared would impact Navy training may have a conclusion in sight.
Which means landowners and counties in Texas could be on the hook for tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars if officials determine non-functional wind turbines need to be removed. Or if that proves to be too costly, as seems likely, some areas of the state could become post-apocalyptic wastelands steepled with teetering and fallen wind turbines, locked in a rigor mortis of obsolescence.
Since the mid-1960s, pilots at Sheppard Air Force Base have made supersonic training flights over the Texas Red River Valley, a region sufficiently remote that mostly cattle ranchers and oil riggers caught sight of the small planes known as "white rockets" as they streaked across the horizon. But North Texas has changed over a half-century. Wichita Falls, where Sheppard remains a leading employer and a major military flight school, today claims nearly 105,000 residents and is the center of Texas' 19th-largest metropolitan area.
AUSTIN - When 39-year-old twin brothers Jimmy and Joe Horn set out to build up to 80 wind turbines near Wichita Falls, the energy developers didn’t envision the blowback they would encounter from a powerful neighbor — the United States Air Force.
The Clay County Commissioners’ Court will be ignoring the interests of Clay County if it awards more wind farm tax abatements.
It's one of two the Corpus Christi Republican is planning to promote this Congress related to wind farms. The second “has more to do with tax credits,” Farenthold spokeswoman Elizabeth Peace said. That legislation, which is planned to be introduced after next week’s inauguration, will mirror a bill U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, introduced last year and be co-sponsored, Peace added.
The fight to beat back the perceived encroachment of wind energy developments on military airspace in Texas is being re-ignited this legislative session. This month, Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) filed a Senate Bill 277, which attempts to limit tax incentives to wind farms built within 30 miles of military bases.
State Sen. Donna Campbell wants to end subsidies for turbines built near military facilities. Facilities too valuable for operations to be hindered, Campbell argues. Wind industry says federal permitting process already “robust.”
The study is in and the findings confirm what common sense tells us -- that rows and rows of towering, spinning wind turbines pose a challenge to Navy flight training. And it just so happens that an 86-turbine wind farm is in the early stages of construction on the southern edge of this city that has been home to naval air training since before we entered World War II.