“Across the state, Texans are fighting subsidies for big renewable energy corporations. It’s an uphill battle as negotiations of these special deals under [Texas] Tax Code Chapter 312 and 313 are hidden from public view. But numerous communities are winning. These are some of the stories of the hard-fought, still raging, and victorious battles against subsidized renewable energy development.”
– Texas Public Policy Foundation, “Texans Are Winning,” February 18, 2019.
The Texas wind industry has been constructed on the backs of US taxpayers, state and locl taxpayers, and captive state ratepayers. The ruse can be traced to 1999 when an Enron-driven electricity restructuring law provided a 2,000-MW renewable-energy quota for Texas. Texas governors George W. Bush and Rick Perry were instrumental in the crony crusade, unfortunately, a story told elsewhere.
The takeoff of subsidies for this politically correct, economically incorrect power source is explained by concentrated benefits, diffused costs. For years, the opposition was stunned in some cases (the unorganized locals) and unorganized. But the locals have mobilized through a lot of bad experience. And Texas’s able free-market think tank, Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), has gotten involved to help them. Big Wind has more resistance than ever before in Texas, as in other states.
In mid-2018, better late than never, TPPF launched the “End Renewable Energy Subsidies” project. The mission statement is as follows:
Renewable energy subsidies have cost Texans more than $13 billion since 2006. Nationally, the production tax credit for renewables will cost taxpayers as much as $65 billion through 2029. These subsidies reduce the reliability of the electric grid and harm taxpayers and consumers. In 2019, the Texas Legislature can take steps to combat these harmful effects by eliminating tax abatements for renewables and forcing wind generators to pay for the costs they impose on the system.
Recently, TPPF reported the following in seven Texas counties:
Wharton County: Cricia Ryan caught wind of closed-door negotiations over a proposed wind farm when a new met tower was constructed and land men approached her neighbors about leases. She immediately discovered that she wasn’t alone in her concerns, and with her neighbors formed Wharton County Against Wind Farms. They held a series of public meetings and individual meetings with local officials. They have won the fight for now; applications for 312 and 313 tax abatement agreements have been defeated by or withdrawn from Wharton County, El Campo I.S.D. and Louise I.S.D. But they are still active in case the wind developers come back for more. Follow the Wharton County Against Wind Farms page.
Van Zandt County: David Dunagan wants to save the environmental and agricultural value of land in his home county. Having successfully fended off subsidies for a local solar project, he and other residents were shocked to hear the project might continue without local tax abatements. Subsidies like the federal Investment Tax Credit and statewide mandates to purchase renewable energy are so immense that even unwelcome and uneconomical projects can turn a profit. Their organization, Save Van Zandt County, is taking the fight to the Texas Legislature, which is currently in session. Visit their website.
Val Verde County: Landowners along the Devils River know the wild beauty of Texas is is a treasure worth fighting for. Residents and landowners from around the state are concerned that their piece of wild Texas—and the ecotourism industry with it—will be only a memory if wind farm growth continues; one is already operating in a corner of the county. A local conservation organization is leading the fight to save wild Texas. Visit the Devils River Conservancy website.
Montague County: Neighboring Clay County, Montague residents are concerned about the effects of subsidies for industrial wind on their lifestyles and property values. Residents argued that subsidies might seem like a good deal for the budgets of local governments in the short run, but the long term harm outweighs those. They explain that wind turbines would devalue property to the point where it could not be sold. Local organizers formed Montague County Against Wind Farms to fight the special deals proposed by wind developers. Their fight continues as they actively engage their local county commissioners and school board trustees. View the Montague County Against Wind Farms website.
Gillespie County: Conservationists in the Texas Hill Country feared the loss of their valuable and scenic environment to the encroachment of industrial wind and the power lines that came with it. Residents mobilized and worked with Save Our Scenic Hill Country Environment, a grassroots organization, to prevent subsidies for wind development. The group fended off developers so effectively that they haven’t come back since. Visit the Save Our Scenic Hill Country Environment’s page.
Clay County: Residents are acutely aware of the effects large wind turbines have on Clay County’s Sheppard Air Force Base. At a community meeting in late 2018, stakeholders spoke about the effects of wind turbines on flight training routes. The impending closure of more routes lead many to fear the the base itself could be closed. Subsidies for the development would make residents pay for the demise of their local economy. Their fight is still raging, but they are winning; public opinion is strongly on their side. Visit the Clay County Against Wind Farms website.
Brown County: When landmen approached residents of Brown County about leasing their land for wind turbines, word got out. An uproar followed, leading to the organization of Brown County Citizens for Responsible Wind Energy (BCCRWE). The group has led a public information and activism campaign to tell the truth about wind farms, their effect on public health, and the unkept promises about jobs and economic benefits. While they have successfully stopped new wind farms from being built, wind farm developers have not given up in their efforts to get favorable tax treatment from local officials. Residents are continuing the fight. Visit the BCCRWE website.
If wind power were really a viable proposition, each project would stand on its own without federal tax subsidies, state tax subsidies, local tax favors, and socialized transmission costs. The Texas Public Policy Foundation may have been years late to the fight, but there is no time like the present to level the playing field to benefit ratepayers and taxpayers alike.
The natural environment, spared the industrial wind turbines in rural Texas, will be all the better for it as well.
The post TPPF: Fighting Back in Texas on Wind Power Subsidies appeared first on Master Resource.
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February 21, 2019 at 01:24AM