A wise man once said these are the times that try a man’s soul. This statement says it all when we as citizens of Brown County consider granting tax abatements to the wind turbine industry. I include all of the citizens of Brown County into my thinking since this is a county wide issue. Unlike what several county commissioners think, this issue is a countywide one and not just a precinct one. These wind turbines are 400 feet tall sitting on a concrete pad 30 feet deep, with all the vegetation removed, and roads built large enough to allow heavy equipment access.
What’s this mean to the citizens of Brown County? Well, first off, when we drive around our county we will no longer see hills with clear vista to view, in the spring no wild flowers to enjoy, in the fall no deer and turkey feeding on the hills, and at night flashing red lights covering the stars shining bright over Brown County. What effect will it have when people drive into Brown County looking to buy land, homes or bring in a new industry?
I have had a dentist from Houston tell me if he had known about the potential for wind turbines, he never would have bought his ranch near Zephyr.
We have heard all the good things that will happen when we get the tax money from the wind industry. Let’s look at what that will mean in my opinion. First, the school districts have made their deals with the wind industry, so they would enjoy the benefits from the tax revenue generated by the wind industry. As for the county, the turbines would be taxed as business personal property, which has a very short life, so when the abatements run out, the depreciated value of the turbines would be so small that very little tax revenue would come to the county. The potential loss in land value not only for those who lease to the wind industry, but also to those who own land in the area would more than negate any potential tax revenue. What builder would take the chance that people would want to buy a home where they see wind turbines? Thus no new tax revenue from this source. A home is real property and has a long economic life for tax purposes, so taxes would be generated for years to come. Once land values fall in the area where the turbines are located, it would have a direct effect on all the land values in the county under the principle of substitution.
What could be the cost to all the citizens of Brown County? First, since there is no remediation fund set up, in other words, there is no money set aside by the wind industry for the removal of the turbines much less the 30-feet deep concrete pads, so we may have to look at these turbines forever. We as taxpayers will be paying for repairing the roads and bridges damaged by the heavy trucks and equipment hauling the turbines, and this will be a direct cost to the taxpayers of Brown County.
The turbines are owned by the industry so they can’t use eminent domain, but the transmission lines are utilities and thus have the right of eminent domain. What’s that mean? Well, you may not have a wind tower on your ranch, but you may be forced to have power lines running across your land, and have no choice about it. This takes into consideration the point of an owner’s rights. You may have the right to lease your land, but in doing so you force your neighbor to lose his rights.
When I look at this issue as a citizen of Brown County, I can’t see what benefits the wind turbines will bring that outweighs the harm. Why should the taxpayers of Brown County give billion dollar companies owned by international consortiums located in Germany, Scotland and England tax abatements.
Whatever your opinion, let your county commissioners know, for we are all citizens of Brown County and not divided by precinct lines.
5 March 2008
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding