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Windmill Farm Opponents To Get Day In Court

A Cooke County district judge decided Friday afternoon that opponents of a proposed wind farm will go to court this fall.

The bounty of Roland Bell’s land includes birds, cattle, oil, and now the very air he breathes.

Bell’s hilltop house, just north of Muenster, overlooks the Red River Valley and may have some of the state’s best wind and the Cooke County rancher isn’t the only one who knows it. Florida Power and Light has erected a wind meter to test the breeze on the property and Bell has agreed to lease land for huge wind turbines.

“Either we’re gonna get it (the turbines) or the people next door somewhere are gonna get it. So my thought is why not help my family and help the city,” says Bell, standing in the pasture of his 1000 acre spread. “Because they are coming.”

Nearby realtor Jack Schoppa argues the whirling noise of the turbines will disturb their cows, and the tranquility of what city folks seek. “They’re looking for scenic country, long views, wildlife, you can hear the cows moo in the background,” Schoppa said.

A group called North Texas Wind Resistance is opposed to the Wolf Ridge Wind Farm a project that could include 65 to 100 turbines in the area.

“They’re very inefficient and they’re unreliable because they have to rely on the wind,” said Joe O’Dell, North Texas Wind Resistance Group.

Lawyers for the opponents are asking a judge in Gainesville for an injunction, to stop the wind farm. A similar case was recently decided near Abilene. In that decision a jury ruled that the Horse Hollow Wind Farm, called the largest in the world, was not a public nuisance.

Wind farm lawyers say the Abilene decision may have taken the wind out of opponents’ sails. “Texas is now the leading state in the production of wind power,” says lawyer Frank Douthitt. “It’s progress. It’s the coming thing.” Douthitt represents Hilliard Energy Ltd, a partner in the proposed Wolf Ridge Wind Farm.

The trial is set for October 15th. Florida Power and Light lawyers say if the court gives the go ahead for the wind farm no wind turbines will be erected until the beginning of 2008.

Mary Stewart