The Rosanky Rural Alliance
Above is a piece of ranch land off of Jeddo Road that developers want to turn into a 2,000 acre solar farm. Thousands of trees would be bulldozed and burned, wildlife rerouted around miles of 8-foot high chainlink perimeter fencing, and longtime residents would have 750,000 solar panels to look at where cattle once grazed.
We'd like to offer up a bit of reading to the Smithville ISD "trustees" that decided to side with the German-owned RWE "Renewables" over their longtime taxpaying Rosanky residents who actually work here and send their kids to their school district:
We understand that reading is not a strong point for several of these "trustees," which is ironic, since their job is to help create a more educated population starting at the school-age level. When these "trustees" say that they are in it "For the Kids," maybe they just mean their own children?
SISD Trustees Vote for Chapter 313
"A majority of the Smithville ISD Board of Trustees voted for profits over people at their June 21 meeting. After 3 hours of testimony with passionate input from Rosanky residents, multiple board members voted to allow RWE "Renewables" to continue their destruction and to allow them millions in dollars in tax breaks that will have to be repaid by Texas taxpayers.
"Voting FOR the Chapter 313 tax breaks were Candice Parsons, Chris Hinnant, and Mike Davis, Jr. Two board members — Howard Burns and Nancy Towry — publicly lied to Rosanky residents when they expressed strong opposition to the tax breaks, only to turn around and abstain from voting, which equaled a YES vote on the tax cuts. Voting AGAINST was Alan Hemphill. Board President Grant Gutierrez had previously announced his abstention, which was a bonafide conflict-of-interest.
"The Rosanky Rural Alliance is disappointed that these SISD Trustees view our community, its residents, and school children as nothing more than revenue generators for the operation of their schools. We will be seeking and supporting rural candidates to run against the three seats that will be up for election in 2022."
Area residents have been asking how much land is involved in the Big Star Solar project, how much RWE owns or leases, and where it is all located. The chart below is from the agreement between RWE "Renewables" and Bastrop County, located on their website. It shows acreage and the numeric location of the parcels.
While RWE "Renewables" can be held directly responsible for this environmental destruction, their hired contractors, Primoris Services Corporation, are the ones pushing over trees and making life difficult for area landowners. You can thank them for bulldozing all the trees, burning them, and the endless hours of construction noise in this once quiet setting.
Primoris is known for installing chemical pipelines, so they're experts in fouling the land. On their website under the "Our Values" tab and the heading "Our Environmental Sustainability" is this line: "Protecting the environment and preserving resources for future generations is a priority. Primoris is committed to continually improving environmental performance in support of our long-term sustainability goals."
How can a corporation like this post a statement like that with a straight face? How can you protect the environment if you're burning all of the trees that used to grow there? You aren't doing a good job of trapping carbon and using "green" methods if you're pouring diesel fuel on those piles to get them lit. The black smoke that rises up from these are very telling.
Primoris has also adopted the term "Renewables" into their name when it suits their project. Do not be fooled, they are simply jumping on the "green energy" bandwagon while they can. The only thing they are looking to preserve is their bottom line.
And making sure that they are scraping the ground good enough is Austin Energy, who are wanting to adopt a "carbon neutral" position for the City of Austin. How can you have carbon neutrality if you're burning all of the trees? Do Austin Energy ratepayers know that their supposed "green" energy is coming from a 2,000-acre gravesite of century-old oak trees?
The above photos are from June 14, 2021. The destruction continues.
Here's what happens when a massive corporation moves in next to a homeowner and begins clearing the property without any environmental safeguards. Wouldn't you just enjoy a Mother's Day dip in this pool?
This neighbor is just across the north fence from the RWE "Renewables" site. The debris is a result of the destruction being wrought by Primoris Services Corporation, who are the contractors hired to bulldoze all those trees on the Big Star Solar plant site. So good to see that they are looking out for their neighbors and the environment!
This is the reason why the City of Austin Government and Austin Energy doesn't want any solar plants in Travis County or around their precious city. Can you imagine the uproar if pools in Westlake or Circle C looked like this? Austin Energy is allowing this to happen by partnering with RWE, and they are turning a blind eye to this, as well as the thousands of heritage trees that are being bulldozed and burned for the lie of "green energy." Because I guess it isn't green if you don't kill all the trees!
The owner of this pool has been instructed to contact the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to report this infraction.
This is yet another reason why we beg Smithville ISD to deny RWE their Chapter 313 tax breaks as soon as possible. It's the only way we can get these environmental destroyers out of our community.
The trees above were full of life when destruction began on the Virginia Watterson tract of RWE and Austin Energy's electrical substation site, as part of the proposed Big Star Solar power plant. The destruction began when large excavators came through and stripped these healthy, heritage trees of their limbs, preparing them to be cut at the ground. Below, the trees have been cleared and the earth is being moved and leveled for the Austin Energy substation. More cutting and destruction can be seen in the background. Piles of trees can be seen, waiting to be burned.
APRIL 28, 2021
Destruction began on the 206-acre Virginia W. Watterson tract on Cistern Road as crews moved in on March 1, 2021 to start the process of clearing the land for the proposed Austin Energy substation. Century-old oak trees were stripped of their limbs before they were cut for firewood. The remaining trunks were ground into the earth. This work is expected to cover over 1,100 acres and run at least 5 months. Note that this does not mean that the RWE tax breaks have been granted. This is not covered under the Bastrop County Tax Abatement and can continue at full blast without the tax agreement. Since RWE is leasing the land from the Watterson Trust (Scott Lane Miller, Timothy Ray Miller, Georgetown, Texas), they are free to do whatever they want to the land prior any solar industrial construction agreements.
Are you experiencing blowing dust from the RWE/Big Star Solar tree-clearing event happening on Jeddo and Cistern roads?
Call the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality
Environmental Complaint Hotline:
Back in August 2020, locals began hearing that a massive $200 million, 1,700 acre solar generating facility was being planned for an area just south of the community of Rosanky. The only people who had been notified were the landowners who agreed to lease their farmlands, who were then contractually obligated to keep quiet on the details.
Slowly, neighbors found out about the major development happening just feet from their fences and back yards. Only after the "Big Star Solar" project began to ask our local governments for tax breaks — namely Bastrop County and Smithville ISD — did their intentions begin to see the light of day in public records. Applications for tax abatements as much as 100% were sent to the county commissioners and the school district. Only then did locals see the true intent of this development and what it would mean for resident's way of life.
In October 2020, locals began meeting to try and get more information from parent company RWE "Renewables" on what they intended to do with the land and what adjacent landowners could expect. After coming up short on real information, people decided to organize in opposition to the solar project.
Fighting hard to
Keep Rosanky Rural
"Renewable energy has good benefits, but giving away hard-earned local tax dollars is not fiscal conservatism or even a green new deal, it's corporate welfare at it's worst."
What do residents want?
FAMILY FARMS, NOT SOLAR FARMS.
It is obvious that RWE "Renewables" is interested in saving money and getting their project built with as little oversight as possible. Unfortunately for them, area residents aren't concerned with what RWE wants. Families live here that have settled and built dreams and are happy with our rural way of life. The thought that a multi-billion-dollar business plans to come in and upend this life is not acceptable. A good corporate neighbor interacts with adjacent land and homeowners. A good corporate neighbor conducts their deals in the light, with integrity. For RWE, there seems to be more darkness than light, which is ironic coming from a company that needs the sun. Trust has been lost, if it even existed in the first place.
A simple list of demands for RWE: Go away. We don't want you here.
• RWE "Renewables" is destroying close to 2,000 acres of native habitat and somewhere around 10,000 oak and pine trees, with a smattering of many others. How is this "renewable"?
• RWE "Renewables" has not initiated an environmental impact study on the wildlife and watersheds they plan to destroy. Neighbors don't know how the clear-cutting and erosion runoff will effect their lands.
• RWE "Renewables" contradicts themselves and offers zero facts or safeguards to neighbors. Information on their plan is not posted online, is not available in handouts, is not available at the county court, and by all accounts does not exist.
• RWE will sell their electricity to Austin Energy and will lease them land to build their electrical substation. None of this electricity is available to local customers; this is all for the City of Austin to look good for major corporations like Google, Apple, Oracle, and Tesla, who were promised "green energy" when they relocated to Austin. The City of Austin wants our land destroyed so that they can appear to be "carbon neutral" to these major corporations.
Our request for Bastrop County Commissioners and Smithville ISD Board of Trustees: VOTE NO on the RWE tax breaks.
• RWE states — IN WRITING — that the solar project will likely not be built if SISD does not grant them Chapter 313 tax breaks. Call their bluff! SISD has nothing to lose, only extra tax dollars to gain if RWE does decide to build without their tax breaks. SISD is not a poor district, and if RWE leaves, the district will not suffer any loss of revenue.
• Bastrop County will gain more tax dollars if they vote NO on their Chapter 312 tax breaks to RWE. At this point, the county is negotiating with RWE on a list of items to help landowners, the county, and SISD, such as further setbacks from property lines of their 750,000 solar panels, a one-time infusion of dollars into the Precinct 2 road and bridge fund, and a one-time donation of $10,000 to Smithville's FFA program. BUT, locals don't care! This will not give them back their peace and quiet. Any donations by RWE are considered hush money and folks would just rather them hit the road than give out meaningless mitigations for their land-destruction schemes. If RWE plans to build, hit them with the maximum tax rate and use that money to fix Jeddo Road.
• Per the Bastrop County Appraisal District, RWE has closed on and owns a parcel of land in the proposed solar development area. Two things are likely: They plan to build no matter what, OR, they will sell the land if the tax breaks are denied. To SISD: this means that RWE plans to build no matter what, so no need for a tax break. Tax them at the full dollar amount and let the district reap the rewards. OR, deny them the tax break and let them sell the land, which will likely sell for more than they bought it for, thus even more tax dollars for SISD. It's a win-win with an added value of showing locals that you stood up for their property rights!
• Stand up for local residents with long-held property rights and tax payment histories to Bastrop County and SISD. VOTE NO on the foreign corporation that merely wants to make a quick buck for themselves and the City of Austin. This solar farm will instantly start devaluing — much as a new car depreciates as soon as it drives off of the lot. Tax dollars produced by this solar farm will be worthless before the half-life of this project comes along, and even more so as solar values drop. It's just not worth it!
We are not opposed to solar power. This is not an opposition to renewable energy. This is an opposition against tax breaks for a wealthy corporation — also known as corporate welfare — who looks to move in to our area uninvited and clear-cut thousands of native oak and pine trees in the name of "green energy." We do not wish for this project — which was brought to this area by Austin Energy — to be the first in a line of infrastructure that is dumped here because Travis County deems it undesirable. We will not allow for the destruction of our lands so that big-city elites can have their carbon-neutral footprint.