"Give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above,
Dont' fence wind out..."
Wind power puts famed ranches at odds
John Porretto, June 23, 2007 (AP via Houston Chronicle)
The King ranch (King Ranch President Jack Hunt), the Kenedy ranch (Marc Cisneros, the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation), Babcock & Brown Ltd. (John Calaway, chief development officer), Texas land commissioner Jerry Patterson
the King and Kenedy ranch region of southwest Texas (click to enlarge)
A 240-turbine wind farm proposed on the Kenedy ranch is drawing criticism from the King ranch.
- The ranches have been neighbors for 150 years.
- Wind farm is expected by spring, 2008
- The ranches are in South Texas, the Kenedy Ranch sandwiched between King's holdings.
- Babcock & Brown is based in Australia. PPM Energy is based in Portland, Ore.
eye of the beholder: what this needs...
- Mid-19th century founders Richard King and Mifflin Kenedy migrated from Florida together, were good friends and never feuded. King ranch: 825,000 acres; Kenedy ranch: 400,000 acres
- The King ranch contends the Kenedy turbines (400 feet tall, the height of a 30-story building) could interfere with bird migration, harm wildlife and ruin the view. Hunt especially promotes more regulation of wind installions. - The charitable foundation that manages the Kenedy ranch has done studies and says the wind farm will not harm birds or wildlife and, since the turbines will be 20 miles from the nearest highway, the King ranch folks should butt out.
- State officials feel the benefits of the wind farm outweigh any potential disadvantages.
- Babcock & Brown has leased land from the Kenedy Foundation and, with PPM Energy, will spend $800 million to install 157 turbines. Initial phase: 84 turbines on 15,000 acres, $400 million, 200 megawatts powering 60,000 homes.
- The feud has stimulated interest in wind energy, an alternative to coal, gas and nuclear, and raised calls for regulation. Texas leads the country in wind farms. There are windfarms in 36 states. The National Research Council found that wind energy can generate 7% US electricity before 2020, up from a current 1%.
- Hunt, on his objections and speaking to the Kenedy people: “[I spoke about]…sacrificing the long-term value of a rare resource for short-term revenue...But it sort of fell on deaf ears…I don't think (government) agencies are doing their jobs…These are not farms. They're industrial sites."
- Calaway: "It's kind of like the Hatfields and McCoys going on here, and it's really unfortunate…The King Ranch has (nearly) a million acres, and if they think it's the right thing to do to have nothing developed, that's fine…But for them to infringe on the property rights of the Kenedy Ranch, which has been incredibly thoughtful about all this, is an outrage. It's so unneighborly, it's incredible."
- Patterson: "Texas is uniquely positioned to lead the nation in wind power…"
- Hunt: "This area is often called 'the last great wilderness…Nobody really understands the impact these turbines will have on an area that's so biologically diverse. It's a horrific location."
- Calaway: "Occasionally, you're probably going to have a bird collide with any structure of any type…We know that. But we're talking about (eventually) generating enough electricity to power 100,000 homes with no water use and no emissions."