As a long-time resident of Wichita Falls who owns land in Jack County, I am very concerned with the expansion of wind farms in Jack County as well as neighboring Montague and Clay counties.
Property owners (and their neighbors) face multifaceted and considerable issues when they lease their land to wind farms to build and operate their skyscraper-ish turbines.
Wind farms are not environmentally friendly to land or to nature. For example, the excavation of leased land to install and support wind farms permanently alters that property’s landscapes, rock outcroppings and micro-environments – all of which are irreplaceable. The long-term wind farm leases do not precisely spell out, to the landowner, what the installation of these large-scale operations will entail. Such omissions can include the size and extent of the development, buildings, storage, roads, repair areas, battery storage buildings, towers, weather towers, enlargement, etc.
Six hundred and fifty-feet wind turbines require significant concrete bases that are left behind once the wind farms are decommissioned, along with the infrastructure and roads constructed on the land to support those farms. The turbines – their height, the equivalent of a 65-story skyscraper – are a blight for miles around, and they also interfere with endangered species. Current projects in Montague and Jack counties will negatively affect the migration paths and lay-over locations of Whooping Cranes. Current population numbers are estimated to be about 500 Whopping Cranes left.
Whenever landowners lease their property to wind farms, they can lose certain rights to their property. The wind farm company has the ultimate say, including possibly refusing access to the property owner for hunting, agricultural or petroleum production on the leased property.
In terms of property owners dealing with wind farm companies, wind energy is not a regulated energy producer in Texas. Unlike oil production in Texas, there are no state-established requirements for the development, operation, and decommissioning of wind farms. Because there is no oversight, property owners don’t have the government regulatory authority on their side and they must rely on attorneys to help assert their rights.
Contracts between landowners and wind exploration companies are one-sided.
While a lease is signed for a 40-year period, a wind company can pull out of the agreement early. On the other hand landowners do not have that right. Some wind lease documents provide that a landowner must also allow the use of their adjacent property in support of the overall wind project. The wind lease company may also have the right to grant access to third parties.
The wind lease company may grant easements or a sublease. When you allow turbines on your property, you may also open the door to unsightly storage of failed equipment and worn-out turbine blades.
What can be done? County tax abatements make these wind farms financially viable. Wind farm businesses are largely subsidized by your county’s tax dollars, or more directly your tax dollars. The net economic impact of a wind farm lease is a poor investment for the landowner and for the county. Property values for leased properties and neighboring properties for miles around, can diminish by up to 50%. When property values fall, tax revenues go with them. That doesn’t include damage to the property itself.
What people can do, is research the short term and long-term impact that wind farms will have on their land, their neighbors land and their county. They should more closely examine the contracts and implications. Residents of Jack County should speak to their county commissioners about not offering tax abatements for wind farm development. Then, nominate and vote for County representatives who vote “No on Tax Abatements for Wind Farms”
North Jack County property owners, join the North Texas Heritage Association for a BBQ and a rally against wind farms at Twin Lakes Community Activity Center, 1114 SH 59 Jacksboro TX, starting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 18.
The program is from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m., RSVP by email to reserve your meal to Roby@HH100.org., or text me at (940) 781-8547. Please include your name, address and the number of adults attending. There will be BBQ for 130 people. If you don’t RSVP, then join us at 6:30 p.m. for the program.
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