An older generation of about 150 people from Stephenville and surrounding areas turned out for Bill Ladd’s anti-wind farm meeting at Henderson Junior High School last night.
Property owners Charles and Nell Kennedy, of Eastland, said they had come just to see what it was all about.
“We’re here to find out about it just in case we are approached by anybody,” Nell Kennedy said.
Charles Kennedy said they owned property and had already heard of a wind farm that might be introduced near them.
Ladd lined up five speakers opposed to wind farms.
Noticeably missing was anyone speaking in favor of wind farms. At least no one had spoken in favor at press time, as the meeting continued late into the night.
Dale Rankin, a resident of Nolan County, said he lives next to the largest wind energy turbine fields in the state. He said the open country of Texas is precious and that it’s being “destroyed before our very eyes.”
Rankin said he has lived on a small ranch since 1995 and feels fortunate to have been able to raise his kids in the country.
Rankin said his property was about to be surrounded on all sides before he really took notice of what was happening in a serious way.
“They deal quietly - stun the landowners with money,” Rankin said. “The landowner will do anything for the huge check they promise. The wind industry plays on human greed and they’re very successful at it.”
He also said the wind companies are successful at getting funding from the counties they are involved with.
“When you deal with them on a county level, the county commissioners need to know what’s up,” Rankin said. “No county should ever give an abatement to a wind company.”
“I live in the wind capital of the world. I had to make a decision,” he said. “We’re not in the most friendly place to stand up and say, ‘We don’t like these things.’”
Rankin organized landowners to fight the wind companies in court, and they’ve been in a legal struggle the last two and a half years. He said they went to trial in December of last year and lost because the only thing the judge would let them talk about was the noise factor. That decision is being appealed.
Rankin said the closest turbines are about a mile from him and the noise from them is like living next to an airport. He said he thought they should have won on that issue alone.
“If you like peace and quite, out in the country - forget it,” he said. “It will not be quiet anymore. And driving through them feels like you’re going through the Twilight Zone.”
He said he’s still confident they can win the case if they are allowed to talk about the fact that wind turbines ruin the landscape.
“We’re slowly beginning to unravel all their little traps in the Horse Hollow Wind Project," Rankin said.
“Win, lose or draw,” he said, “we are fighting."
Tommy Haley, a retired wildlife biologist of 51 years, warned the small audience that the white-tailed deer population would be extremely disturbed wherever wind turbines were placed. But he also said he had seen deer herds move out when road construction disturbed them.
He said once you lose a deer herd you cannot get them back unless you “re-grow them there” or put up an eight-foot fence to keep them in to start with.
Haley said he thought jackrabbits and quail might stick around, but he knew white-tailed deer would be unable to tolerate the turbines and he didn’t think the turkeys would either.
“The noise is really grating on your system,” he said. “I can’t imagine living with it day in and day out.” He said when he had been around the turbines it was only for a few hours.
Haley gave a lot of statistical information to the crowd in which he had documented the populations of deer herds with aerial surveys and stressed to the crowd how fragile the ecosystem was and how it takes a lot less than wind farms to drive them out.
“It’s a very fragile ecosystem you’re dealing with,” Haley said. “I guarantee you this will destroy the populations (white-tailed deer herds) and move them out."
Haley was not a fan of wind turbines for aesthetic reasons either.
“This is probably the worst thing I’ve ever seen put on our landscape since our settlers first came to Texas,” he said.
Editor’s Note: For more information from this meeting see Sunday’s or Monday’s E-T.