(Jun 22, 2007)

Texans duke it out over wind farm

By John Porretto
From AP

The disagreement lingers even as Babcock & Brown and PPM Energy of Portland, Ore., prepare the sites for the turbines, which they both hope to have spinning sometime next year. PPM's initial phase calls for 84 turbines on about 15,000 acres owned by the John G. Kenedy Jr. Charitable Trust _ a $400 million investment that's expected to generate 200 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 60,000 average-size homes.

PPM spokesman Jan Johnson said the company, part of Spanish power utility Iberdrola, has worked diligently to make sure the turbines will have as little effect on the area as possible. She said it already scaled back the number of turbines nearer the coastline in part to protect some birds' flight patterns.

''Occasionally, you're probably going to have a bird collide with any structure of any type,'' Calaway said. ''We know that. But we're talking about (eventually) generating enough electricity to power 100,000 homes with no water use and no emissions.''

Cisneros said he and his board of directors were satisfied the project posed little threat to the environment. The foundation donated $11.5 million to charities in 2006, primarily causes in south Texas associated with the Catholic Church.

''We're convinced the benefits outweigh the disadvantages,'' Cisneros said. ''And we're a charity organization, so there's a human dimension that hasn't been brought into all this.''

Those arguments have done little to appease Hunt, who said he still hopes to work with lawmakers to make wind farms more accountable. He points to the federal tax credits that wind farms receive as only one of the reasons for more oversight.

''This area is often called 'the last great wilderness,''' Hunt said. ''Nobody really understands the impact these turbines will have on an area that's so biologically diverse. It's a horrific location.''

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