Wind and Solar Facts

Here you will find the facts about wind and solar that the renewable industry does not want you to know

Property Values Will Decrease

Decreasing Property Values of 25% to 40% Where Wind Farms Exist Are Real.  The installation of industrial wind power facilities will severely reduce local property values. Historically, 80% of land real estate transactions Brown and Coleman counties are those involving recreational buyers.  In other words, people buy land in Brown and Coleman counties to enjoy the beauty, peace, and tranquility of the land and lifestyle that it represents.  The result of a wind project in our area will be a significant reduction in marketability of our land, homes and our county if we allow it to proceed.

While solar has a much smaller footprint, the impact to those adjoining or in sight line could still encounter a substantial impact on marketability and value in a market such as Brown County where recreational buyers make up the vast majority of transactions.  The common sense approach concerning values, and the most widely used and accepted approach to valuing rural property,  is defined as an estimate of value of recent sales of similar property in the surrounding or competing areas – as compared to the subject property.  The facts are these: property values in our Brown County Texas areas have increased dramatically over the last several years with buyers from urban areas acquiring land for recreation and retirement purposes. These buyers spend money in our county and our cities.  They eat at our restaurants, shop at our stores, contract with our tradesman, and pay taxes.  In areas of our state and nation where wind turbine companies have developed wind industrial zones, property values have decreased materially. Many cannot sell their land once turbines are introduced.

So, what will happen when industrial wind zones are developed in our counties, where land is selling at $3,000 or more per acre? It will significantly slow down our real estate market and slow our economic growth as we have come to know it. Just as scenic views and water features tend to increase property values, we know based on publicly available evidence that massive industrial turbines and power transmission lines will dramatically decrease property values.  Based on independent studies, the values may decrease 25% to 40% or more in these areas. In fact, buyers are already wary of the prospect of wind zones in our county. Several brokers who sell property in our area, including Comanche and Mills Counties, state that 8 of 10 buyers will not even look at a property if there are wind turbines in view.  Brokers have reported, that they have had prospect clients decide not to buy land because of the potential of wind turbines being built in proximity to the property. Those landowners who wish to sell property at this time are already seeing the effects of this proposed project. 

Value and marketability impacts are real and they are substantial.  Furthermore the wind companies gain the large profits of increased electricity costs, federal subsidies, and state tax credits. The landowner gains none of these tax incentives or real profits in comparison to such wind companies. Hard facts are – if wind turbines are in your view, you lose.  


Renewable Energy Requires Our Tax Dollars to Survive

"For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That's the only reason to build them. They don't make sense without the tax credit." 
Warren Buffett

Renewable energy exists because our representatives in both the federal government and our local governments give multi-national companies our tax dollars.  There are three significant tax revenue sources for these companies. 

The federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) provides a significant tax revenue for wind installations.  It is estimated that this tax credit will provide $48B of our tax dollars to the wind energy industry by the time it phases out.   The PTC is a subsidy that benefits a few energy corporations. Only 15 parent companies account for more than three-fourths of all PTC eligibility.  The PTC distorts electricity markets. It encourages wind energy producers to accept negative prices. The negative prices increase costs for other energy producers and electricity suppliers. The PTC operates within a web of wind energy incentives that increase costs to taxpayers, further distort electricity markets, and benefit large corporations.  The PTC is slated to phase out completely by the end of 2019.

The federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) provides significant tax credits offsetting the cost of building solar installations.  This credit is the single largest funding source for solar in Texas.  Without the ITC, Texas would not have one solar installation.  The ITC encourages large corporations, many of them foreign, to make investments in our rural areas.

Local property tax abatements are also sought and provided to wind and solar developers.  Under Texas Chapter 312 & 313 of the property tax code, local governments can provide a cap on the valuation of the newly installed wind and solar facilities at $10M per year for 10 years.  Assuming that an installed cost $250M - $400M, this is an astronomical benefit to the large corporations and a terrible disservice to our communities.  Taxpayers see little benefit from this installation value as the equipment depreciates up to 80% over that 10 year period.  With a life of 10 - 15 years, at the 10 year mark where the $10M cap on value is to be lifted, the market value at that time of the equipment will be greatly reduced.  Therefore, the taxpayers of the county will never see the benefit of the full taxable value due to this depreciation. 

Local tax abatements under Chapter 312 & 313 are also granted at the local level.  County Commissioners are also not required to ask for public input on this issue until 30 days prior to their final vote.  They are also exempt from the Open Meetings statute. This means they can meet with wind companies privately, negotiate agreements, have closed door discussions all without their constituents knowledge.  At the point where the public is finally invited to a hearing on the issue, the decisions are most always already made.  An issue such as this project that will potentially impact Brown and Coleman Counties for the next 60 years, should not be a decision made without public input and debate.  To overcome this lack of transparency, communities have actively reached out to their commissioners through in-person discussions, email, phone or petitions.

In summary, these wind companies need our tax dollars to build these installations.  Without the PTC and the ITC, this industry will significantly slow.  Without the local abatements, no proposed project will proceed.  Our county leadership needs to hear from our landowners and residents to ensure they know we will not support tax abatements in Brown and Coleman counties.


Renewable Energy Does Not Deliver on Jobs

In Texas, as part of the agreement entered into when a renewable energy company receives a Chapter 312 & 313 property tax abatement, they must commit to bring full-time jobs to the local communities granting the abatement.  Those positions are required to be quality jobs with compensation that is above the average annual wage for similar jobs in the area.  The problem lies in the ability of the local governments to issue waivers on the jobs creation requirement after the wind energy company has received the abatement and completed construction.   In fact, according to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, 87% of all waivers in Texas under Chapter 313 for job creation are granted to the renewable industry.  Multiple statistical analyses of Chapter 313 deals, conducted since the law was amended to allow waivers of job-creation requirements, have shown that renewable companies disproportionately take advantage of their ability to qualify for big tax breaks from school districts without providing any new employment opportunities to the community.  During the construction phase, a majority of the labor is from out of the local area.  In most cases, the renewable energy company contracts with a construction company that is responsible for building the project.  In short, renewable energy is not about jobs creation.  It is about tax credits for the rewnewable energy companies.


Landowners Give Up Property Rights for Up to 60 Years

The contracts being offered by the renewable energy companies include easement rights that last up to 60 years.  Easements provide the renewable companies with the rights to your property below ground, surface, and above ground.  For solar, the loss of access and use is especially significant as the entire property would be covered with solar panels and other installations rendering it unusable.  The contracts also give them the right to build new roads, construct buildings such as warehouses, clear land, lay electrical lines underground, or build transmission towers above ground.  Most of the construction will occur on site.  For wind, there will be temporary concrete plants built to produce the thousands of tons of concrete needed.  There will be large amounts of materials brought in and staged on leased property.  The construction equipment consisting of earth movers, dump trucks, cement trucks, cranes and work vehicles will begin early and end late during this phase, greatly increasing traffic and potential for accidents on our rural roads.  For the most part, the landowner does not have a say in any of these activities or where they are located. These easements allow for construction crews, maintenance crews or others associated with the solar and wind installation, to come and go when they like without the landowner being notified.  Will they respect your land, will they clean up trash they bring, will they let your livestock out, or infringe on your privacy? 

Negative Environmental Impacts Will Be Significant

Wind turbines proposed in this area recently have been be 600' to 650' tall.  To put this in perspective, the transmission line towers that run in the proposed area are only 200' tall.  Also, in Texas, there are only 9 buildings taller than these turbines.  This can be compared to having 60 to 80 sixty story buildings dotting our landscape.  Recently proposed solar projects require the clear cutting of thousands of acres for the installation of millions of panels.  The impact to our views, the viewshed, will be significant. The negative impact to our environment will be irreversible.

Solar farms also pose real environmental challenges, including habitat degradation and harm to wildlife. Due to the nature of the solar installations, thousands of acres are required for a ~200MW facility.  Solar requires clear cutting of all native trees, plants and grasses.  Creeks, drainage and other surface water areas may be modified to allow for solar panel installations resulting in changes to runoff and the potential for flooding and erosion.  Wildlife is also severely impacted due to loss of habitat and displacement.  The impact that solar farms have on individual species can send ripples throughout entire ecosystems. The habitat therefore becomes less livable for plants and wildlife that have adapted to its specific conditions.

Construction has significant impact on the natural landscape.  The sheer size of these installations requires building new straight and sturdy roads across landowner property that can handle semi trucks delivering ~150' long blades or millions of solar panels and cement trucks delivering tons of material.  Cement plants are built to produce the tons of cement required for each turbine or foundations for faclities.  Material for cement is brought in and has to be staged and stored.  Vegetation must be cleared wherever construction is to occur, thousands of acres in the case of solar.  Trenching and transmission line corridors will leave miles long areas void of trees and brush.  Assembly areas must be created where turbines can be staged and built.  Warehouses may be constructed as well as parking areas for construction crews and equipment.  All of this will increase traffic, litter, damage to our roads, impact on our wildlife, damage to our land and increase noise in our communities.

In the case of wind, each turbine is required to have an FAA approved hazard light.  As many in our local area can attest, these lights are visible for up to 30 miles or more.  This would bring an enormous amount of light pollution to our area.  Our amazing night skies will be changed forever.  Our land and homes in close proximity will be impacted by 60 to 80 lights blinking in harmony every few seconds.  One landowner who has turbines 18 miles from his home reported that he can no longer sit outside on his porch at night as the lights are so distracting that he can no longer enjoy the warm summer night sky. 

Also with wind, each turbine is a mechanical generator.  The sound that these turbines produce has been compared to a jet that never lands.  Sound can be as high as 70db which is the same as an air conditioning unit or a loud conversation and it never stops as long as the wind blows.  Landowners have reported that the greatest impact is at night when sleep can be interrupted.  One landowner who has a turbine approximately 2,000 feet from her home, stated they she is always tired due to the turbines.  The noise outside can be just as distracting and irritating to landowners who have enjoyed the peace and serenity of the country life for generations.  Solar is not without its own noise concerns.  Each solar panel has a electric motor that is used to position the panels throughout the day to align with the sun.  In a 200MW, installations with over 1 million panels, 1 million electric motors would also be required and are not without noise.

Current Income May be Impacted

Many landowners in this proposed area derive income from their land.  They raise and sell cattle.  They grow cash crops or hay which they sell.  They lease their land to hunters for bird and deer hunting.  With the installation of wind turbines, many of these activities will immediately be impacted during the initial construction phase.  Fencing and cross fencing may be removed for new roads, buildings, assembly sites or other construction.  Land will be disrupted where it may not be possible to grow or harvest crops.  Hunters may be deterred from leasing due to the current construction or increased traffic on properties.  Landowners should consider the impact from lost income during this initial construction phase.  One landowner reported that his land was damaged due to the clearing of all vegetation along the line of turbine construction.  The result was that when rains came, his land flooded where it never had flooded before.  This type of impact could hamper landowners' ability to carry out income producing activities during this period.

Once completed, permanent impairment is likely for areas of a property where income was derived in the past.  Farming activities may be prohibited in areas where turbines, underground electric lines, above ground transmission lines are located.  Buildings and roads may now dissect fertile land.  Will hunters, who seek to leave the cities for the natural and peaceful countryside, continue to lease or will they decide to go elsewhere?  These are real and important considerations for landowners when weighing the positive and negative financial impact of signing a wind lease.

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