Every now and then good ol’ fashioned capitalism crashes into the public good.
Even though our economy thrives on honest capitalism and, more specifically, individuals having ample opportunity to improve their status in such an economy, sometimes the devastating impact on a populace outweighs the individual gain.
Especially if the devastating impact involves killing about $750 million in annual revenue for Wichita Falls.
Three-quarters of a billion dollars are at risk if developers of a proposed wind farm in Clay County get their wish.
The instant bump in income for a select few would ravage the North Texas economic landscape. Wind farms would put the viability of Sheppard Air Force Base at risk, a risk we simply cannot allow.
High-ranking military officials said as much recently when a town hall meeting addressed the proposal and concerns.
Col. Gregory Keeton said the installation of wind farms could force the Department of Defense to move the base’s pilot training programs to another Air Force base.
That cannot happen.
In a newsletter, Henry Florsheim, president and CEO of the Wichita Falls Chamber of Commerce & Industry wrote, “SAFB plays a vital role in our economy and in our everyday lives,” and that residents need to be “protecting what you have.”
In the same newsletter, Florsheim, incidentally, placed the economic impact of the base at $1 billion.
Sheppard is paramount to our survival. Sheppard is our economic water source. This is critical. Much like the water crisis we faced in recent years, we must do whatever we can protect what keeps us alive.
Pleading to the developers’ good graces and common sense has yet to prove to successful.
“I’m from Windthorst, and I don’t want to close the base down. I don’t think it will close down,” said Jimmy Horn, owner of Horn Wind PM LLC, who is developing two future wind farm projects in Clay County for owner Alterra Power Corp., a Canadian alternative energy company.
“We’re not trying to kill the Air Force base.”
Perhaps Horn isn’t trying to kill Sheppard, but impediments to air space would indeed drastically reduce the mission’s training ability.
As Wichitans, we’ve known for decades that the military could pick other locations for Sheppard’s tasks. As Wichitans, we’ve stressed upon our representatives the importance of keeping Sheppard here – and most importantly, our appreciation for the base being right here, in our community.
If the missions at Sheppard are moved elsewhere, there will be no community, at least not resembling anything we’ve enjoyed to date.
If the wind farms are placed in Clay County, our future could be blowing in the wind.