In Texas, a showdown is brewing between local communities and a Chinese billionaire over a controversial plan to build a 46-turbine wind farm in Val Verde County. Sun Guangxin, the Chinese tycoon in question, has acquired over 130,000 acres of farmland in the Lone Star State (7% of all the land in Val Verde). But locals and state politicians have come out in strong opposition of Sun’s proposal, citing fears over energy security and national security.
Sun, who is estimated to have a networth of $2.9 billion, began his career by opening a string of entertainment ventures in China in the late 1980s. From there, he established Guanghui Group, an energy, automotive, and real estate firm. Sun reportedly gained access to the Chinese energy sector by forming close ties with state-owned enterprises and party officials.
The proposed wind farm has been met with unanimous disapproval from the locals; community members fear that the 700-foot turbines would destroy the natural environment and wildlife, including the famous bat maternity colony at Fern Cave, Monarch Ranch. Residents also worry that the turbines will impinge upon the scenery and peace of the community.
But it was concerns over national security that ultimately galvanized the opposition. A report written by former CIA officials alleged Sun would likely be considered an agent of the Chinese state by US authorities due to his close ties with the CCP and its military, and argued the project could provide espionage opportunities for Beijing. Also, with the turbines being just 30 miles from a major USAF base, opponents worry Sun’s close ties with the CCP could be used to access the state energy and infrastructure.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott responded to the worries by introducing the Lone Star Infrastructure Act in 2021, which prevents firms associated with “hostile nations,” including China, from accessing the state infrastructure. But locals are now concerned that Chinese interests could still be at play, as the developer of the wind farm, GH America, has since sold the rights to develop the wind far to Babcock & Wilcox, Greenalia, and reportedly made a profit in the process.
The Chinese billionaire has now sold most of the controversial portfolio including a 15,000-acre ranch that included plans for a 46-turbine wind farm and has plans to sell the rest of his assets in Texas.