There is an ongoing effort to lease land for a proposed wind farm in Southwestern Brown and Southeastern Coleman counties. This wind farm could contain up to 100 wind turbines that are 575 feet tall. A group of concerned citizens are attempting to inform landowners and the general public about the proposed wind farm. Landowners in the area who oppose the wind farm far outnumber those that have signed a lease. The group intends to publicize the negative impact that a wind farm will have on future commerce for the cities and counties; even more troubling is the permanent damage that wind turbines would do to the beauty of our Heartland.
Let me be clear. I am not opposed to providing a company a tax incentive to build or expand if it will improve the job market, commerce and the desirability of the general area. If it were such a good deal for the county you would think that the public would be more informed about the positive impact for the area. There will be a short infusion of money spent locally during the construction phase but shortly after this the indicators we have about wind farms tell us that the local commerce stalls. Historically, one or two permanent jobs are created after the project is completed. Local real estate information indicates that the disclosure of a wind farm within a county to a prospective buyer generally results in no sale. The county affected ends up with minimal house sales, slow-to-no rural land sales and the possibility of lower land values.
The trickle-down effect of these issues has long lasting effects and can possibly pose a far greater negative impact on commerce than the unknown taxes collected 10 years down the road. County and school tax abatements, the state propping up wind energy electricity produced and federal subsidies are the only reason these projects go forward. The way to stop wind farm creation is for county and school districts to say NO to tax abatements.
There will not be a public vote on whether an individual school district or Brown County provides a tax abatement to a wind farm company. The Texas Open Meetings Act exemption allows school and county officials to conduct closed meetings on negotiations about a redevelopment project. What this means is that a school district can hold closed meetings related to this project and the school district taxpayers don’t have to be informed. There is also a confidentiality exemption for most of these projects. Once the project is state approved, the school district will generally request a tax abatement from the county. A 72-hour notice to the public is the minimum that has to be provided before this would come to a vote from the commissioner’s court. In the State of Texas wind leasing companies can go from leasing land to getting final approval from the county commissioners court without the public having knowledge about any of the details of the project. This is due to the structure and exceptions in Texas Tax Code for these projects. Providing a tax abatement for the company operating the wind farm will be a decision for the commissioner’s court.
All citizens residing in Brown and Coleman Counties, whether it be within the city limits or outside the city limits, have a commissioner. If you are not in favor of this project please write or email your commissioner and county judge about your opinion on this issue. School boards should hear your opinion on this issue as well. The wind farm is not an experiment for a few years but for several generations.
Our county officials should continue to support the integrity and stability of our county by making decisions that would boldly demonstrate they have the best interests in mind for the residents of Brown and Coleman Counties now and in the future. Should you have questions or want to sign a petition please go to www.TLOW.org.