Once upon a time there was an incredibly special place called San Saba. There was no place else on the planet quite like it. San Saba was blessed with rolling hills, magnificent views and flowing water. Two special rivers crossed the County and an unbelievably huge natural spring flowed right through the middle of town.
San Sabans treasured their unique environment. They restored downtown buildings to their original condition. They meticulously maintained a beautiful park that surrounded the gigantic natural spring. They planted thousands of pecan trees that grew in orchards and nurtured thousands more that grew natively on the banks of the rugged Colorado River. They took care of their community and they took care of each other.
More than anything, the San Sabans worked hard to assure that their children would inherit the bounty this rich land provided.
When the San Sabans needed a break, they often retreated to their homes or to small cabins in the country. There, they gazed out across a pristine landscape. In spring, their eyes feasted on a plethora of wild flowers—dazzling swatches of bright color set against emerging grass and budding trees. In summer, they swam at the spring-fed swimming pool or in the rivers. They fished, watched birds and spotted endangered and threatened wildlife. In fall, they played golf at a picturesque course surrounded by the San Saba River— a clear, meandering river shaded by ancient trees. In winter, they harvested deer, turkey and dove, creating a feast for carnivores rivaling anything available at a fancy restaurant or organic grocery.
One day, the San Sabans felt very, very tired.
They weren’t afraid to go to sleep because they knew powerful forces would watch over them. They had elected local leaders who loved the land as much as they did. And, there were others outside of San Saba who would protect this magnificent place. The Lower Colorado River Authority made sure nothing happened to the lakes and rivers. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department made sure the wildlife habitat remained unspoiled. The Texas Historical Commission protected the special historic sites. The San Sabans knew they would wake up from their nap with their world in tact.
So, the San Sabans dozed off.
Little did they know that the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing was about to invade their territory. Way out in West Texas near a place called Red Raiderland, a move was afoot to build huge wind farms that could provide green energy throughout the State of Texas. The plan sounded great! Harvest free wind, convert it to electricity and send it to population centers like Austin, San Antonio and Houston. The sheep’s clothing was thick and luxurious. No one suspected what lay beneath it.
While the San Sabans slept, federal and state legislators approved plans to subsidize the wind farms and authorized transmission lines to transport energy. It seemed too good to be true.
And it was. Slowly, the wolf began to emerge. The free wind energy turned out not to be free. Some said it was more expensive than most other types of energy. Why? Because God decided when the wind blew and God liked for the wind to blow at night and in the winter. The exact opposite of when Texans needed energy for their air conditioners. Then, because electricity can’t be stored, the free wind energy had to be backed up by predictable sources of energy that could be started and stopped almost as quickly as the wind came and went. So, not only was wind energy not free, but consumers had to pay for the wind generating infrastructure and the back-up power source.
The San Sabans slept on.
Soon, the powerful people had to develop a way to get the energy from Red Raiderland to urban areas. They decided to erect huge steel lattice towers, towers that looked somewhat like the Eiffel Tower and rose to a height of almost 12 stories. On a clear day, they could be seen for miles! Massive construction equipment invaded the pristine Hill Country clearing everything in its path—giant Oaks fell, fragile habitat yielded to the clear-cutting bulldozers and banks of rivers and streams were destroyed. The vibrations from the heavy equipment disturbed rock formations and damaged groundwater sources. Some springs stopped flowing. San Saba was being ruined by a man-caused disaster.
And the San Sabans slept on.
The path of the transmission lines in San Saba County was long and wide. The lines covered a distance of about 50 miles. For each mile the transmission lines crossed, about 844,000 square feet of San Saba’s land was destroyed. Not only was the land underneath the towers destroyed, but the powerful electromagnetic fields emanating from them endangered wildlife and perhaps human life. In addition, the big transmission lines passing through San Saba were not well situated to carry other types of energy. So, the expensive, monstrous lines stood idle much of the time waiting for the wind to blow.
Finally, the San Sabans awoke.
Refreshed from their long nap, the San Sabans headed outside to celebrate a new day. They were stunned and heartbroken at the damage that had been done to their precious land, to the rivers and to the wildlife. They couldn’t imagine how such damage could have been done so quickly and so irreversibly. They asked hard questions. They wanted to know why smart people in Washington and Austin hadn’t stopped the disastrous plan. Some wanted to file law suits. But, it was too late. There was no way to undo what took eons to create but only a few months to destroy.
In addition, all those big-city folks who received the wind energy were presented with huge electric bills. They also lost the beloved Hill Country as their place of peaceful retreat.
And, the wolf lived happily ever after!