The Great Texas Wind Hoax


Sam Pakan
PPJ Gazette

The eastern Texas Panhandle, a land of rolling sand hills, tree-lined creek beds and tall grass vistas, may seem a desolate place to outsiders. Still, it has its beauty, especially to the cattle ranchers and wheat farmers who work and live on it. But not for long.

Much of this land, the fragile habitat of the Lesser Prairie Chicken and the Whooping Crane, is scheduled to become industrialized if the Texas PUC, the DOE and FERC have their way. Incongruously, the demolition of this mostly native grassland is being proposed in the name of green energy.

The Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ), a name not without irony, was initiated by a 10 million dollar grant from the Department of Energy (DOE). In December of 2009, plans were expanded when Secretary Chu joined Jon Wellinghoff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in a Memorandum of Understanding to coordinate efforts to interconnect several transmission lines. The CREZ line, part of the larger Electrical Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) system, is to help supply the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex with wind-generated electricity from the northern Texas Panhandle.

There are problems, however.

Protests from disgruntled landowners have been met with staunch resistance from Cross Texas Transmission, the developer of the Gray to Tesla and Gray to White Deer lines. In an escalation of that resistance, landowners were sent a “Access Consent Form” the day before Thanksgiving insisting their lands be made available for survey. With the long weekend, landowners had only two working days to find representation and prepare a response and still meet CTT’s deadline. CTT, acting under the auspices of the Public Utilities Commission, has been given the power of eminent domain. With that looming over their heads, most landowners signed but added wording insisting Cross Texas Transmission follow established environmental laws, the same wording and the same laws now required on state-owned lands. Cross Texas responded to their request by issuing restraining orders and suing for entry without restraint.

The action was not surprising. Since having been awarded the contract to construct, operate and maintain these lines in October of 2009, Cross Texas has consistently reminded landowners that they have no options and has refused to address any of the economic or environmental problems created by the transmission lines.

The Economic Problems
According to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, wind energy in Texas will have in excess of 28 billion dollars in subsidies, federal and state, poured into its development by 2025. When tax breaks, market disruptions, increased production and ancillary costs are added in, the taxpayer’s bill could top 60 billion dollars. In spite of the massive funds being thrown its way, wind-generated electricity remains far more expensive for consumers than that produced from coal, gas or from nuclear facilities. It’s also proven far too intermittent. As a result, continued expansion of wind fields could raise rates paid by consumers by as much as 50 percent, even with the massive federal and state subsidies. The impact to small businesses and to those on fixed incomes could be devastating. Moreover, many experts believe that, due to the intermittent flow and low energy flux, wind generated electricity can never be competitive.

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