Wind was first used to generate power in the western world, circa 1200, to grind grain and lift water. Today, wind is being used to enrich big business.
The father of today's industrial wind turbine scheme was a guy named Kenneth Lay. As the CEO of Enron, an energy company, he envisioned a method of using government tax relief and subsidies to make industrial wind power work, knowing that without the government's aid, wind power could not sustain itself. Through buying favors and lobbying efforts, congress granted substantial concessions to the wind power industry.
Mr. Lay's wheeling and dealing eventually caught up with him. Enron collapsed and Lay was convicted of conspiracy and fraud. Under his direction the company hid billions of dollars of debt in failed ventures. His scam cost investors 10 billion dollars and over 20,000 employees lost their jobs and retirement. At the time it was the largest bankruptcy in history. Mr. Lay died prior to facing a possible life sentence for his crimes.
But the tax avoidance wind scam Kenneth lay created may be coming to Mason County. A few land owners located primarily north of RT 377 and west of Rt 87 have signed lease agreements with a wind power company to install industrial wind turbines on their property.
The primary purpose of an industrial wind installation is to make money, not to provide a service. Mason County's is rated poor as a wind source and yet industrial wind factories want to move in. They don't need wind to make a buck. Through a 5 year double declining balance accelerated depreciation tax break, which is not available to most other energy providers, production tax credits, renewable energy credits and additional subsidies by the State of Texas, these industrial wind farms are able to recoup their capital investment within a few short years. And what makes Texas attractive to these wind scammers? Unlike other states, there are no rules. Legislation introduced in the Texas lgislator recently requiring modest regulation was defeated. In Texas, big business reigns supreme. Because they are afraid of open debate, wind power companies come in behind our backs, sign up land owners, requiring them to sign a confidentiality agreement which simply means, keep quite. The first concrete evidence of these industrial wind installations is when they record the lease agreements with the county.
The LCRA, Lower Colorado River Authority, that controls the electrical grid in our area is now conducting an interconnection study for the transmission lines that go from the proposed industrial wind project in our county to the main grid. If wind factories gain a foothold here it will be the beginning of the industrialization of Mason County. And if one wind factory becomes established, there will be more.
Who pays the bill for this scam? We do, through the taxes we pay. And that's not the end. We will pay for the construction of the transmission lines which will cost us 10's of millions of dollars through an increase in our electric bills.
Land owners have the legal right to control, posses, enjoy, and dispose of their land. With an industrial wind farm adjacent to a land owner, the enjoyment is gone and the right to dispose of their land at a reasonable price has been abrogated. According to the Gardner Appraisal Group out of San Antonio, land owners with property adjacent to an industrial wind factory will have a diminution of their property values of up to 35%. (Check out Wind Watch Gardner Wind Property Values on an internet search).
A wind factory in the Hill Country is like a feed lot in New York City. They just don't belong. Industrial wind turbines will pollute our skyline with 400 foot steel structures. And wind is one of the most expensive forms of energy. First, there are the tax breaks and subsidies, which come out of our pockets through taxes. Second, energy distributors like LCRA must have back up power available from other sources during peak hours because wind turbines can't provide the necessary power. Peak usage hours coincides when the wind is the weakest. Third, the cost of the transmission lines is on us, the user. At a wind power conference I attended, one of the wind power company representatives conceded that without the taxpayer footing the bill, wind power wouldn't exist. Much more on the seedy side of wind factories may be found on an internet search under National Wind Watch.
When all is said and done, if there are folks that still like industrial wind turbines, they will just love the transmission lines.