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Wind Farm Sitting and Encroachment to Military Bases

I recently testified at a Texas House Defense and Veteran's Affairs Committee in Wichita Falls. The topic was "how encroachment impacts the vital missions of our military bases in Texas and which policies can be put into place while retaining respect for private property rights, economic growth, and the operations of military facilities. The topic of the day was sitting of wind farms farms. The committee is Chaired by Representative Susan King and the Vice Chair is Representative James Frank.

Sheppard Air Force Base is concerned about the potential wind farms being located in their flight path training area. Other concerns included the affect wind farms have on radar and the Air Force's ability to see and communicate with all aircrafts, military and civilians. Dyess AFB representatives talked about the fact they worked with Taylor County Commissioners and potential developers up front to create a compromise that was acceptable to both sides. FPL accually moved a development location to accommodate Dyess.

Testimony included Sheppard AFB, Mayor of Corpus Christi, VP of Development from Apex Clean Energy, Dyess AFB, Texas Wind Coalition and others. Much of the discussion centered around communication and who should be included at what stage. Bottom line is that if a project is looking at locations near military bases, be upfront and in contact with the base leadership, the city, the county, the FFA, and DOD. As many forms of communications as we have, I think we still don't communicate well. We seem to communicate in volumes versus in depth conversations. Sometimes more is less!

Wind has been good to Texas and especially West Texas. Sweetwater/Nolan County has benefited greatly by wind development. In 1999, pre-wind, the taxable evaluation for Nolan County was approx. $500 M. By 2006, the taxable evaluation for just wind was $74 M and total for the county was $830 M. Today, 2016, the taxable value of wind in Nolan County is at $620 M and total taxable evaluation for the county is at $1.89 B. Commercial evaluations have also increased from $428 M in 2006 to $788 M in 2016.

Maybe we need to take a step back and rethink our communication efforts. To make sure what we send out has value and moves our cause forward.