Mason County News
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Wednesday, November 3, 2010 • Posted November 3, 2010

Dear Gerry,

I was interested in Mr. Sadler’s letter of 27 October in which he extolled the many virtues of wind energy – most of which I am inclined to agree with him about. I would like to respond to Mr. Sadler and his 20 October full page advertisement about "The Truth about Wind Energy in Texas." In these we learn that there is "one grid for most of Texas. Managed by ERCOT it serves over 22 million Texans. It is unique to Texas. It is our grid." We are also told (in bold face type) that "Wind energy is good for Texas. It creates jobs, supports revenue for schools, makes our air cleaner, conserves water, and is clean, safe, and abundant." We learn that "ERCOT has determined that only one Hill Country line is necessary. The PUC will decide the ultimate route, and it will impact some private property owners. Like you, we (The Wind Coalition) want to preserve the beauty of the Hill Country."

Mr. Sadler also tells us that we will "save between $160.93 and $354.94 per year" if we are a typical residential customer, although it is not clear to me whether this is a typical customer in Mason. How could anyone be in opposition to such a proposition? Well, for one thing, none of these issues seem to be the real problem. The people deciding that a Hill Country line is "necessary" have not included representation of those "impacted" in the decision – unless, of course, you count having the right to complain about the decision after the fact. There seems to be something unsettlingly bureaucratic and anti-democratic about a quasi governmental process by which someone is going to make a lot of money – but not necessarily those "impacted."

If Mr. Sadler and the Wind Coalition really want to "preserve the beauty of the Hill Country" they could support the notion that a Hill Country line is not "necessary" at all until extensive investigations of alternatives to this "necessity" were actually conducted. And, I think in all fairness they could invite active participation by those so "impacted" in the process of determining such a route – if it were demonstrated to be a "necessity." The issue seems to be that we are prepared to let people whittle away at this hard won and hung onto heritage one bit at a time until the whole thing looks like a good many other parts of the State, and never hold anyone accountable for doing something all of the rest of us have to do every day of our lives. That is, look at the whole picture. I know of no one who is prepared to sacrifice their first born, or their grandmother, to be able to afford a new car for the youngest. How far are we prepared to go in the loss of property rights and environmental quality for cheap energy in San Antonio? $160.93 seems to be a pretty small price for the high quality of life the Hill Country now affords. And, a high quality of life is the thing all of us work for every day. It is the ultimate goal of almost everything we do.

If we are prepared to accept one amputation after another until we have nothing but a legless, armless version of the Hill Country we may still call it the Hill Country, but it just won’t be the same. A Texas Hill Country in name only is not what I think most are prepared to settle for. If this is really "our" grid, why do we have so little say in where it goes? If The Wind Coalition’s "genesis is in the environmental movement" and they "believe in the preservation of the environment" as they say, why do they not start by protecting, not exploiting, the most historically, culturally, and environmentally significant – and in my view, the most beautiful – environment in the State? If, on the other hand, these statements do not represent their true values, or do not represent "The Truth about Wind Energy in Texas," what else are they saying that cannot be fully embraced? I just wonder why they are prepared to spend so much money buying ads in the paper to say these things.

Michael Murphy

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