REFUGIO COUNTY – Twelve miles south of Refugio and to the west of U.S. Highway 77, 18,000 acres of land have been leased for a wind farm, according to a memorandum in the Refugio County Clerk’s Office.
As well, 7,627 acres are additional acreage that are 17 miles south and east of Beeville in Bee County. The area is referred to as “Island Pasture.”
The land, owned by the late Kathleen D. Roche, was placed into a trust by Frost Bank in 1955.
Now the lease signed off by Frost Bank trustees has been secured by E.On Climate and Renewables to develop a wind farm on the land.
According to the memorandum dated April 14, 2016, the wind farm would be named the Blackjack Creek Wind Farm and the lease would remain in effect for 36 years.
The wind farm would take six years to develop, meaning it could start operations in 2022.
Nearby neighbor to the project site, Matthew Grayson, who owns the Telarana ranch – 5,500 acres in Refugio and Bee counties, said he was not happy about the venture.
“A hundred plus wind turbines, each with blinking red lights would dramatically change the character of our area and devalue real estate in Woodsboro, Refugio and the county by up to 50 percent,” Grayson said.
Grayson added that he had donated a 1,200-acre conservation easement on the Medio Creek to Ducks Unlimited, a nonprofit organization 501c dedicated to the conservation of wetlands and associated upland habitats for waterfowl, other wildlife and people.
“The parcel of land is set aside to protect this migratory bird flyway, which sees whooping cranes, bald eagles and other species of birds in the proposed wind farm area,” he said.
Grayson noted that wind turbines do kill birds, hence he does not want them near the flyway.
He also pointed out Texas Senate Bill 277, which prohibits incentives or tax breaks for wind farms that are being constructed within 25 miles of an aviation military base because the average 500-foot tall wind turbines interfere with radar.
Matt Tullis, spokesman for the German company, which has offices in Austin, San Francisco and Chicago, said the development of the project is just getting started.
“The Blackjack Creek Wind Farm is still in development. So I don’t have a lot to say about it at this time,” Tullis said.
“It’s just too early on the project,” he added.
“It will take 18 months to two years to complete the interconnection studies,” he said.
Those studies, he said, will determine capacity of the electrical lines, acreage per wind turbine and more.
The studies help determine how large the project would be, according to Tullis.
So Tullis could not answer how much electricity would be generated, who the electricity would be sold to and how many wind turbines are planned for the acreage.
“We will be opposing this at every federal, state and local level,” Grayson said.
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