SOS Hill Country

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Made Up Your Mind About Wind Turbines Yet?

Wind Farm

Dear Friend and Neighbor,

Save Our Scenic Hill Country Environment was organized by a group of landowners in Gillespie County concerned that our beautiful Texas Hill Country might some day be forever altered with the construction of wind energy developments similar to the one pictured here. It is our firm belief that such a development in the Hill Country would have detrimental impacts on:

  • the natural beauty of the area
  • the quality of life of area residents
  • the landowner's control of their property
  • the natural well being of our wildlife
  • the value of our properties

Our group feels that wind energy developments might be beneficial in some areas of the state. However, in the Hill Country, with the smaller size of most land tracts, the larger number of homes dispersed among these tracts, and winds that are marginal at best for wind energy production, we feel that such a wind farm development would be irresponsible. We are aware that representatives of at least two wind development companies were or are negotiating wind farm leases in northern Gillespie and parts of Mason and Llano Counties. A 2006 wind study done for the state's electrical grid operator (ERCOT) ranked this area as being 20th out of 25 areas in Texas in wind potential. This apparently peaked the interest of wind farm developers even though it showed us as being in a marginal wind potential area.

It is the concern of our group that wind farm developers and their assigns will construct wind turbines and all of the infastructure that goes with them in the Hill Country in spite of our marginal winds. They will do this to take advantage of some very large tax incentives for parent companies before these incentives go away at some point. It is also our concern that once the wind turbines are up, energy royalties to landowners with wind turbines will be much less than expected and the severe impact on our Hill Country area will be already have been done and for possibly little monetary return.

We understand that the agreements generally are very one-sided in favor of the wind company and that the landowner is required to give up a significant amount of control on how their land is utilized. We feel that it is in the landowner's best interest to review any agreements very carefully.

Please feel free to contact us with any comments or questions.

Potential Benefits

Negatives

Additional income to the land owner; perhaps substantial

Income uncertain, not guaranteed; based on number of factors including unknown number of turbines, wind conditions, maintenance, future operator(s), potential curtailments, etc.

Possible reduction in hunting lease income; maintenance traffic could disturb hunting; lease hunters may not want to hunt on land with wind turbines

Who pays for removal of turbines when they are damaged or obsolete; are there any financial guarantees that obligate the current and future wind turbine operator(s)?

Private property rights; land owner to do what he wants on his own property; Texas law upholds this right

Negative impacts on, and rights of, neighbors and other landowners in the area

Loss to landowners with wind turbines of their rights to their own property

Unlimited access by the wind turbine operator; on-going maintenance could mean continuous traffic on property

Contractural rights may be very one-sided in favor of the wind turbine operator; contracts should be reviewed carefully with legal advice

Significant clearing of land required in wind turbine area and for service roads

Noise and flickering shadow effects of the wind turbines for a considerable distance

Long-term options of heirs restricted

Lower property taxes due to addition to tax base

Assumes no tax abatement for wind turbines

Possible increase in county taxes due to wear and tear of county roads and other infastructure due to extremely heavy installation equipment and maintenance traffic

Decrease in property values may more than offset added wind turbine valuation

Chapter 41 ("rich") school districts get very little benefit from increase in tax base.

Lower property taxes due to lower land values

Land appraised as agricultural use not impacted.

Possible increase in tax rates by some taxing authorities to offset reductions in appraised values.

Makes passing property on to children easier with lower property values because of the wind turbines (less value; less inheritance tax)

What kind of land is being passed down if there are wind turbines on it or on area properties?

If a landowner or their heirs ever want or need to sell land, it would obviously be better at higher prices.

Some property owners see new housing developments as big an eyesore as wind turbines, more of a drain on underground water tables and just as large a burden to the County infastructure of roads, law enforcement, etc.

New housing developments are not visible for miles as are the up to 400+ foot wind turbines on top of the tallest hills; also, they don't typically involve thousands of acres.

In most counties there are more ordinances concerning the placement of septic systems than there are current state laws concerning placement of wind farm developments.

Water well contractural rights of the wind turbine operators may be significant; what permanent effect will this have on springs and streams?