TLOW: Case study in NIMBY (not in my back yard) mindset

Brownwood Bulletin
Opinion submission

To the editor:

In its ongoing and vocal opposition to the proposed Brookesmith solar farm, TLOW (Texas Landowners Opposed to Wind) offers a local case study in the self-limiting futility of the NIMBY (not in my back yard) mindset. Their name is already obsolete, and isn’t even spelled out on their website or facebook page.

Underlying all of TLOW members’ arguments against the solar farm, which include opposition to Californian (or multi-national) corporations, subsidies, The Green New Deal, and environmental impacts, is the one constant of the NIMBY attitude: resistance to change itself. Good luck with that! Narrowly focusing solely on what it opposes, without suggesting a clear alternative, TLOW thus endorses only maintaining the status quo, revealing the hypocrisy of their reasoning.

For example, TLOW objects to the “California-based” company behind the solar project, but doesn’t mention or seem to mind that Oncor Electric Delivery Co, which supplies electricity to our area, is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy of San Diego, California.

The TLOW website warns that “wind and solar are about money”, and that multi-national corporations want to take advantage of Texas tax credits to expand their solar and wind projects here. But wait, aren’t multi-national oil and gas companies “about money” too?  Aren’t they also subsidized? Isn’t the Camp Bowie industrial park in Brownwood full of multi-national corporations?

TLOW claims to be “fighting to protect land rights,” but whose land rights? Since the proposed project would be constructed on private lands, TLOW is really just setting itself up as a peer pressure group to influence private landowners’ decisions on what they choose to do with their own land.

TLOW claims “to protect Texas native landscape.” Are they new disciples of deep ecology? Hardly. Did they suddenly fall in love with the mesquite and prickly pear they used to eradicate? Probably not. Are they opposed to the Vulcan strip mine/quarry that has chewed up the native landscape just outside of Brownwood?  No.

So, who is TLOW, anyway? The website says “we are residents, landowners, business owners, officials….”  Officials? Really? What kind of officials? No one identifies themselves on the website, but it sounds good, right? The website photo shows four male ranchers chatting in a corral, so ... The good ol’ boys! You can sure trust them! The facebook page says “416 members.” Is anyone in charge, or every one?

There are indeed many legitimate economic and environmental concerns to consider in the energy and power supply sectors, and no doubt wind and solar power will continue to expand. Brown County Commissioners appear to be taking a slow, deliberate, cautious and prudent approach to the pros and cons of this particular proposal. Utility scale wind and solar farms have a footprint on the land. So do oil and gas wells, and pipelines and refineries, and any other new construction, for that matter. But a decentralized, “distributed” system that generates power from solar panels on every rooftop, with net metering, could lead to cheaper and more abundant energy for all. Electric utilities would shrink into irrelevance, so they oppose this model.

Is TLOW a front for the big electric utilities?

Just wonderin’.

Daniel Graham

Brownwood