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Texas stops Chinese billionaire from building wind farm

WOAI San Antonio logo WOAI San Antonio 5/27/2021 Jaie Avila / News 4 San Antonio

A Chinese company is evaluating its options now that Texas lawmakers have passed a bill to block it from building a wind farm in Val Verde County.

The Blue Hills Wind Farm was planned for the Devil's River area about two hundred miles northwest of San Antonio. Trouble shooter Jaie Avila investigates claims it poses a threat to national security and our power grid.

Jaie Avila standing in front of a fence © Provided by WOAI San Antonio
Caption: Trouble Shooter Jaie Avila investigates claims the wind farm poses a threat to national security and our power grid.

The Morning Star Ranch belongs to Sun Guangxin, a former Chinese military official, who purchased 140-thousand acres with plans to build wind and solar farms.

Property owners and conservationists were the first to raise alarm about the wind farm, saying construction might harm the pristine Devil's River. The also worry allowing a foreign company to connect to the Texas power grid would make it vulnerable.  

“There are foreign actors, as we've seen recently with the gas pipeline hack, that have ill intent for our country and our critical infrastructure," said Julie Lewey with the Devil’s River Conservancy.

Those concerns were amplified by China-watchers like Kyle Bass, who recently took a picture of an air strip on Sun's ranch. Bass alleges Sun Guangxin is a former general with ties to the communist party, and his company should not be allowed access to the power grid.

“When you're able to plug directly in you're able to map it, you're also able to upload malware, you can do all kinds of horrible things to our grid," Bass said.

News 4 San Antonio interviewed Stephen Lindsey, a Vice President with GH America, Sun's company that wants to build the wind farm.

Lindsey said the wind farm would not be a threat to the State of Texas. He says he doesn't know if his boss has ties to the communist party, but says Sun is not a former general.

“None of that is true. The chairman of the board of the company held a mid-level rank as an army officer in a motor pool company," Lindsey said.

Lindsey says the wind farm passed security reviews with the federal government and the Department of Defense.

Opponents say GH America wants to put up unusually tall 700-foot wind turbines in an area not particularly known for high winds, and where pilots from Laughlin Air Force Base fly training missions.

State Senator Donna Campbell likens it to a trojan horse China could control to gain access to the power network.

“The Chinese Communist Party believes any China citizen whatever property they have is also their property," Campbell said.

The legislature has now passed the Lone Star Infrastructure Protection Act.

It won't allow companies controlled by China, Russia, Iran or North Korea, or one of their citizens, to tie in to critical power, cyber security, communications, hazardous waste or water treatment facilities.

“The bill serves to protect our critical infrastructure from countries that are hostile to us," Campbell said.

If sun is forced to give up and sell his property, ranchers and conservationists say their battle will continue against other projects encroaching on this unspoiled part of Texas.


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