Stephens County property owners fight against wind turbine project ‘jeopardizing’ land, NextEra sites benefits to farm
A group of property owners in Stephens County is fighting against a potential project placing wind turbines on the land. The county’s commissioners will soon be voting on whether to give the wind turbine company a tax abatement, which residents believe will determine if the project will be completed.
Zola George has about 320 acres of land he’s kept with his high school sweetheart since they were first married, “We’ve been enjoying that place since the mid-80s, I’ve taken my kids out there to visit grandma and grandpa, it’s been my hunting lease.”
The beauty of the land has become one of George’s favorite things about this area. Easily, when a company came to his doorstep asking him to sign a 99-year lease for wind turbines to be placed on his land last year, he said his answer was simple: No.
“We sit on the side porch, and we watch the sun go down, and we think it is absolutely amazing. But these wind turbines, I think they will jeopardize all of that,” George shared.
George told KTAB/KRBC he took it upon himself to contact just about every property owner in Stephens County to ask their opinions on the proposed La Casa Wind project. From there, he learned about more potential problems.
Local real estate agent Keziah Farrar said she conducted a study to see how wind turbines might affect the land, “The evidence showed immediately that there was about a 50% decrease in property values if wind farms where either on the property or even visible.”
The information from that 2022 study from Farrar found below:
Based on the aforementioned information, if George decided to sell his land, he fears, “It would be close to a million-dollar loss for my family.”
However, another problem was brought up by one more nearby property owner, Eric Brunner.
“I would not have purchased this property had I known these wind turbines were going to be a problem for me,” said Brunner.
As a Veteran, Brunner said he appreciates the sight of military aircrafts flying about 500 feet above his land for practice. But these wind turbines can be up to 550 feet tall.
“Can you imagine an F35 pilot or an F36 pilot getting ejected over this wind farm and having his parachute get caught in one of those blades?” Brunner pondered, “I’m happy to see these F35’s and F16’s fly over my ranch anytime. I call it the sound of freedom. We shouldn’t compromise our mission readiness or combat readiness for the sake of a wind farm.”
George also mentioned his concern for the Palo Pinto State Park, which is set to be open in 2024. The park, which is supposed to be known for the beautiful scenery, would be surrounded by these turbines.
In 2022, the wind energy company, NextEra, attempted to get a tax abatement through Breckenridge ISD. That was denied by Deputy Comptroller Lisa Craven. Now, the company is attempting to get the abatement through the school district.
This group of Stephens County landowners said they are doing everything they can to encourage commissioners to vote against the abatement and potentially put an end to the La Casa Wind project.
“I hope this wind farm company will just go somewhere else. There’s a lot better places, at least in our opinion, to put the wind farms in,” added George.
KTAB/KRBC reached out to NextEra Energy. Its communications department provided the following statement:
“The proposed La Casa Wind project will provide significant benefits for the residents of Stephens County. Wind energy is very compatible with agricultural land uses and has little impact on existing ranching operations – multiple studies have concluded that wind farms pose no significant long-term impact to property values.
“For nearly 25 years, NextEra Energy Resources has been helping fuel Texas’ economic growth and quality of life with projects that provide good jobs and millions of dollars in additional tax revenue, which can be used to enhance schools, roads and essential services.”
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