The push for renewable energy through a mix of federal, state, and local subsidies and mandates is not only putting the U.S. at risk of becoming perilously dependent on intermittent wind and solar power for its electricity. It is also providing a glide path for a hostile foreign power to mess with the nation’s power grid and damage our critical energy infrastructure.

Houston-based GH America Energy is a wholly owned subsidiary of Chinese Guanghui Industry Investment Group, which, since 2015, has purchased about 140,000 acres in Val Verde County, Texas. The Xinjiang-based parent company is a massive conglomerate with extensive holdings in real estate, liquified natural gas, transportation, and chemicals. Guanghui’s billionaire founder, CEO, and Communist Party member, Sun Guangxin, wants to erect hundreds of wind turbines and perhaps several giant solar arrays on his West Texas acreage, a plan that is running into stiff resistance from residents and national security experts alike.

Located about 200 miles west of San Antonio, the Devils River area of Val Verde County would be site of Mr. Sun’s renewable energy mega-project. The sparsely populated area is home to a few Texas-size family ranches, lots of wildlife, and Laughlin Air Force Base in nearby Del Rio. French and Middle Eastern companies already operate the sprawling Rocksprings Val Verde Wind Farm, a complex covering 15,000 acres within 15 miles of the Devils River. The thought of having even more wind turbines, soaring hundreds of feet into the air, further disfiguring West Texas’s rugged but picturesque back country has long-time ranchers on edge.

“It’s a total crisis. We depend on ecotourism. The turbines will affect the deer. They will kill the birds. And we’re on the flyway for the monarch butterflies,” third-generation rancher Alice Ball Strunk, 63, told the San Antonio Express-News (Aug. 2).

Stalking Horse

But there is more going on here than renewable energy’s inevitable environmental degradation and noise pollution caused by giant wind turbines’ spinning rotors. Daniel N. Hoffman, a retired clandestine services officer and former chief of station with the CIA, says Mr. Sun “is Xi Jinping’s stalking horse dispatched to exploit Texas’ dearth of regulations and bureaucracy especially related to purchasing property.”

Writing in the Washington Times (Aug. 14), Hoffman points out that “GH America would use the cover of a windmill farm renewable energy business venture to spy on behalf of China’s ruthless dictatorship.”

Hoffman is correct in noting that Texas’ short-sighted embrace of renewable energy has been an open invitation to troublemakers. Indeed, the proximity of the Devil’s River site to Laughlin Air Force Base is, as the old Bolsheviks were wont to say, “no coincidence.” Officials at Laughlin are wary of having 700-foot Chinese-owned wind turbines sprouting up on hilltops overlooking the base, where 300 pilots are trained each year. Pointing to the threat China’s wind power venture poses to Texas’ critical infrastructure, Hoffman says the Chinese would have the capability to overload the electrical grid and cause power outages.

“The enemy is not at the gates but has gained entry inside them, albeit through a Trojan horse real estate acquisition rather than a kinetic attack,” he notes.

Texas is now saddled with a problem of its own making, and its consequences will reverberate far beyond the borders of the Lone Star State. Politicians in Austin have been promoting renewable energy for two decades. Texas is the nation’s leading producer of wind power, with some 15,000 turbines scattered among 160 wind projects, heavily concentrated in gusty West Texas. And more are on the way.

County officials in Texas lack the authority to regulate, much less block, wind projects. Val Verde County Commissioner Beau Nettleton believes the threat the Devils River project poses to Laughlin may ultimately be its undoing.

“My position, and probably the county’s, is that if it at all affects Laughlin Air Force Base and hampers their ability to perform their mission, we are going to oppose it,” he told the San Antonio Express-News (Aug. 2).

Right now, the only thing standing in front of Mr. Sun’s wind project, which may have little to do with wind, is the U.S. Department of Defense. GH America Energy will have to reach an agreement with the military on a plan to mitigate interference with flights from the base. But even if such a plan is agreed to, the risks posed by the Devils River project go far beyond interference with flights.

Implications of China’s 2015 National Security Law

China is a party state. Chinese companies, especially those with a presence in foreign countries, do not operate independently of the powers that be in Beijing. Hoffman reminds us that China’s 2015 National Intelligence Law gave the Communist Party of China sweeping powers to exploit Chinese domestic and overseas companies: “Any organization or citizen shall support, assist and cooperate with the State intelligence work in accordance with the law, and keep its secrets known to the public. The State protects individuals and organizations that support, assist and cooperate with national intelligence work.”

DOD should pull the plug on the Devils River wind project now.

Author

  • Bonner R. Cohen, Ph. D., is a senior policy analyst with CFACT, where he focuses on natural resources, energy, property rights, and geopolitical developments. Articles by Dr. Cohen have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor’s Busines Daily, The New York Post, The Washington Examiner, The Washington Times, The Hill, The Epoch Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Miami Herald, and dozens of other newspapers around the country. He has been interviewed on Fox News, Fox Business Network, CNN, NBC News, NPR, BBC, BBC Worldwide Television, N24 (German-language news network), and scores of radio stations in the U.S. and Canada. He has testified before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee. Dr. Cohen has addressed conferences in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Bangladesh. He has a B.A. from the University of Georgia and a Ph. D. – summa cum laude – from the University of Munich.