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Wind farm exclusion debated by commissioners

CORPUS CHRISTI – Wind farms were scrutinized during a Nueces County Commissioners Court meeting, though they came out unscathed this time.

Commissioner Mike Pusley proposed the court exclude wind farms from receiving tax abatements during a discussion of changes to the policy. The amendment failed 3-2 Wednesday.

He and Commissioner Joe McComb argued wind farms are subject to few regulations, already receive federal tax breaks and could leave land owners in a lurch if they’re abandoned.

Commissioners Joe A. Gonzalez and Oscar Ortiz called the exclusion discrimination against one energy industry, and McComb noted the tax abatement policy already includes a list of excluded projects.

Pusley said he’s not opposed to wind farms, but added they belong in more rural areas, and said Apex Clean Energy in particular hasn’t listened to community input on its Chapman Ranch development.

“They’re not suited for being built up against the city limits of Corpus Christi,” he said.

He gave a presentation to the court in May in support of a Commissioners Court resolution against the proposed Apex Clean Energy wind farm. The Corpus Christi City Council in October annexed the Chapman Ranch area in hopes of having a say in the development.

Dahvi Wilson, communications manager for Apex Clean Energy, said the company works to comply with all local, state and federal laws when developing wind farms.

Jeff Clark of the Austin-based Wind Coalition said wind farms comply with Federal Aviation Administration and Defense Department regulations.

“Often times you have someone who would like to stop a wind farm, so they raise issues like the military or bird migrations,” Clark said, “but we have a federal process we go through to make sure we don’t create a hazard for the military or a danger for migratory wildlife. It’s a little frustrating when we hear this idea we’re completely unregulated.”

Other changes clarified definitions in the policy, and commissioners approved another change proposed by Pusley to lower the number of abatement years during a development’s construction from five to three years.