Recently, Alterra Power Corporation and Horn Wind PM, LLC, sent a mailing to residents of Clay County promoting its proposed Byers and Bluegrove wind farm projects.
According to the mailing, these projects would bring $80 million in economic impact to the region over the next 25 years, and provide between 350 and 500 temporary construction jobs and 20 permanent hourly jobs.
Sounds good, right? But let’s put it in perspective for a moment.
These wind farm projects will make flying less safe for all of us – military and civilian – and hurt the flying mission (to train new pilots) at Sheppard AFB. Sheppard’s leaders and pilots have told us that plainly. That alone should make us think twice about these projects.
But let’s stick to pure economics. According to the Texas Comptroller, Sheppard brings $3.4 billion (yes with a B) in economic impact to our region every single year, and accounts for nearly 37,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Put another way, the Byers and Bluegrove wind farms will bring $80 million to our area over the next 25 years ($3.2 million/year), while Sheppard will bring $85 billion – 1,062 times more direct income for the area.
We must ask ourselves if the short-term benefits these wind farms may provide are worth jeopardizing the future of the biggest economic engine and largest employer in the region – Sheppard AFB – which brings literally a thousand times more benefit to our community than wind projects can ever hope to bring.
That doesn’t even account for the many other benefits the base brings to our community. Its Airmen provide tens of thousands of volunteer hours each year supporting virtually every nonprofit in the area. Its international cadre brings culture and experience we would not otherwise have. The spouses of the Airmen serve as teachers, nurses, physicians, child-care workers, entrepreneurs and in a hundred other capacities.
Sheppard and its Airmen have brought all this to our community for the past 75 years. The question is, will we keep them here for the next 75 years?
Or, will we sell our 75-year, $85 billion inheritance for a twenty-five year, $80 million mess of windmills?
I certainly hope not.
– James Meaders, Wichita Falls
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