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.
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
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 planning to destroy 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 battery storage buildings. 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 status. 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 car 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.
"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."