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Second wind farm blowing into county

ISLAND PASTURE – Bee County could see another wind farm coming to its southern side.

Located in an area dubbed Island Pasture, 7,627 acres just 17 miles south and east of Beeville are being considered for development of this new farm which is causing concern for at least one nearby property owner.

Additionally, 18,000 acres of land have been leased in Refugio just 12 miles west of U.S. Highway 77, according to a memorandum in the Refugio County clerk’s office.

Developers of this new wind farm are E.On Climate and Renewables and, as of yet, company officials have not contacted commissioners here with their interest or a request for a tax abatement, said County Judge Stephanie Moreno.

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 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.

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.

Like this wind farm, another not far from its location met with similar opposition but is well on its way to being built.

Jimmy Jackson, well-known birder and photographer, had hoped to dissuade county leaders from creating a reinvestment zone for a tax abatement to Avangrid Renewables for its construction near Tynan, but was unsuccessful.

He, too, argued not only the financial side but the environmental.

“They want to build these things because they get massive subsidies from the federal government both during construction and in the from of tax credits after they start getting their income stream,” he said during a meeting here last year.

Birds, he said, fall victim to the turbines.

“The birds aren’t of much interest to a lot of people, but they are of interest to me,” he told commissioners here.