NUECES COUNTY –
The Chapman Ranch Wind Farm is going up south of town and while the 81-turbine system will generate millions of kilowatt hours for retail providers, statewide, there are few regulations governing its operation.
The reality is hitting home for Javier Ojeda, whose 60 acre ranch is about a mile from the site, which will cover dozens of acres in Nueces County just outside the City of Corpus Christi’s jurisdiction.
Ojeda’s concerns began the day the drainage ditch he depends upon to protect his land from flash flooding suddenly filled with water.
6 Investigates traced the origin back to the wind farm, where workers had run three lines more than a mile from their construction site to the ditch in front of Ojeda’s home.
“I want some accountability from them. From everything they’re doing, you know?”
Ojeda grows coastal hay for horses and understands the need for clean energy. But what bothers him is the reality he’s now beginning to understand: wind energy is the least regulated public utility in Texas.
6 Investigates asked a spokesman for the parent company to the project – Enbridge Energy – how many state permits they needed to break ground on the 250-megawatt operation.
Michael Barnes did not answer that question, directly. Instead, he forwarded this statement:
“In Texas, prior to starting certain interconnection studies, the Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) requires a wind project developer to attest that it complies with certain federal regulations concerning notice to the Federal Aviation Administration and Department of Defense. This policy was requested by Governor Abbott to address concerns raised by military leaders and was implemented in November 2016. Review of commercial wind projects to ensure the continued safety of air traffic is handled by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) with consultation from the U.S. Department of Defense Siting Clearinghouse.”
Ojeda eventually heard from the company, which confirmed the only thing in his ditch, was water.
A Chapman Ranch spokesman tells us if the company decides to shut the farm down, they have to take the wind turbines down and restore the land to it’s normal use. If the company fails to do that, Chapman Ranch can drag them into court.
But without state oversight, Ojeda wonders what might come to pass should the wind farm stop being profitable for its owners in the near term, or, when the turbines outlive their 25-year-life-cycles.
“They don’t have to take ’em out. They don’t have to take all the cement that they put in the land. They don’t have to do anything.”
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