The Kerrville Public Utility Board, advertising itself as “Safe. Reliable. Yours.”, should cease investing in politically correct, economically incorrect energies that are disruptive to the landscape and neighbors.
Last year I moved from Houston to the Texas Hill Country in search of good air, clean living, and a respite from the city scene. There are no wind turbines here, but a nearby solar installation has been in the news.
Kerrville Daily Times article, “Residents Report Flooding from Solar Farm” (May 11, 2021), explained a situation of problem, non-solution … continuing problem, non-solution. The municipality at issue (partial investor) is the Kerrville Public Utility Board (KPUB).
The details are provided in the article below:
In the wake of concerns over flooding at properties adjacent to a solar farm off Spur 100, NextEra Energy Resources says it has submitted a remediation plan to the city and Kerrville Public Utility Board.
Residents who voiced their displeasure over the situation at a May 6 meeting of the Kerrville Planning and Zoning Commission said the flooding has been happening for three years.
Resident Guy Woodrow, who lives in the 600 block of Spur 100, said the flooding brings boulders toward his property and a silt fence has been in view since March of last year.
“We used to see trees back there,” Woodrow said. “Now we’re seeing a pile of rocks back there. None of you would want to go through what we’ve gone through for three years.”
He added culverts in the area are not functioning, to the detriment of a neighbor.
“Water came down and flooded their new garage, because those culverts don’t contain the water,” Woodrow said.
Pablo Brinkman, representing a developer hoping to build an RV park nearby, said the culverts are the wrong size. He and nearby residents also said a retention pond installed on the solar farm hasn’t held water.
“They put in a large retention pond back there that is about the size of a football field, 8-10 feet deep, lined with rocks — the water comes right out of there and right down the property; it … might have slowed it down a little bit, but not much,” said Sally Gallops, who lives in the 900 block of Spur 100 next to the solar farm.
Brinkman said his clients’ property has continued to erode, and they’re willing to offer the city a 20-foot easement for use for drainage improvements.
“NextEra Energy Resources has been working with our construction contractor and their engineering teams to resolve the stormwater flooding issue related to the solar project,” wrote Conlan Kennedy, of NextEra, in a Monday email. “In March, we met with the landowners impacted, and we understand their concerns. We have developed a remediation plan which was submitted to KPUB and the city of Kerrville for their review on May 7. We will continue to work with KPUB, the city of Kerrville and landowners to ensure the issue is resolved.”
The solar farm was one of four community solar systems KPUB helped create. This particular farm is on city-owned land off Spur 100, and NextEra leases the property for the solar system from the city of Kerrville and has contracted with AUI Partners to design and build the solar system, said Allison M. Bueché, KPUB spokeswoman. Half of the energy from the system is dedicated to serving the city of Kerrville, and half is dedicated to serving low- and moderate-income KPUB customers, all at competitive, fixed pricing, Bueché wrote in a Monday email. She added all KPUB customers benefit from the systems, because they reduce KPUB’s peak summer loads and associated costs that are based on peak loads.
She said construction of the farm started in November 2018, and since then, the stormwater runoff from heavy rains has added to existing drainage problems for the three closest downstream properties.
“KPUB was first contacted about the concerns in April 2019, and since then, we have been working to resolve the issue with NextEra and AUI Partners,” Bueché wrote. “NextEra and AUI have made two prior attempts to mitigate the runoff problems. First, they installed large rock gravel on the steeper slopes at the site to reduce erosion and rock berms on the site to slow the water flow coming off the site. The second effort involved installing a large retention pond to slow the discharge from the site in the spring of 2020.”
After the retention pond was installed, KPUB continued to receive complaints from adjacent neighbors, she continued, so the utility hired an independent consulting engineer to review the design of the pond and the drainage situation at the site.
“AUI Partners is working with NextEra Energy Resources to come up with design modifications for the mitigation efforts at the site and has been working on getting bids from contractors to do that work,” Bueché wrote. “KPUB has received those remediation plans and will be reviewing them with our engineering consultant as soon as possible. KPUB is committed to ensuring the situation is resolved.”
Like industrial wind turbines, solar for grid electricity is very land-intensive and not conducive to the well-being of nearby residents. The further they are from the load, the higher the transmission costs and the more electricity is lost via transmission. And given cloudy days and nighttime, solar output declines and even disappears, confounding a system that must have continuous power to meet peak demand at any time.
Solar and wind are bad economics that do not need to be. Conventional power generation is not unsustainable. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is not a pollutant but a greening agent for the great outdoors—not that solar and wind would make a difference anyway.
The Kerrville Public Utility Board (KPUB), advertising itself as “Safe. Reliable. Yours.”, should cease investing in politically correct, economically incorrect energies that are disruptive to the landscape and neighbors.