Texas Windfarms threat to military pilot, intelligence training and National Security
By: M20 Associates SME
May 18th, 2021
Texas lawmakers are trying to stop a Chinese firm from infiltrating the state's power grid near a U.S. Air Force base. As we have seen with the Colonial Pipeline, the security of critical infrastructure is a primary component to our critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR). In April, the state Senate passed a bill that would ban businesses backed by hostile countries—such as China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea—from acquiring critical infrastructure contracts or companies in the state.
The primary goal was to prevent a China-backed company from turning a 130,000-acre piece of land into a wind farm within 70 miles of Laughlin Air Force Base. "The federal government is not stepping up to the plate to make sure that our country is secure," State Sen. Donna Campbell, R-District 25, told The Washington Free Beacon. “This was happening right under our nose.”
The wind farm project is managed by Chinese subsidiary company GH America Energy, a firm run by the China-based Guanghui Energy Company, which was founded by Chinese business mogul and former Chinese military officer Sun Guangxin. Campbell said ties between Sun and the Chinese Communist Party raise concerns about the safety of Texas’ infrastructure.
“A Chinese billionaire who has high-ranking connections with the Chinese Communist Party purchased nearly 150,000 acres (about half the area of San Antonio, Texas) of land in a sparsely populated area of Texas,” Campbell said. “We can’t allow hostile nations to get a foothold in our critical infrastructure.”
Laughlin Air Force Base, in Del Rio, Texas, is a military installation where Air Force pilots undergo training. Additionally, Goodfellow Air Force base—where new intelligence professionals for the Department of Defense are trained—and Angelo State University in San Angelo, TX, are also susceptible. China has been known to insert their intelligence sources into companies, students, professors, etc. to conduct espionage activities. The potential target of a training center for new intelligence professionals could be a potentially rich target of opportunity.
One public policy official expressed concern over the presence of a China-backed company in such proximity to a major U.S. military base. “It’s extremely frightening that we have foreign companies that we want to connect to our grid,” Texas Public Policy Foundation expert Jason Isaac said. "It's not only the espionage impact of having a Chinese-controlled company close to the base, but also the ability that they could have the base without power for an exceedingly lengthy period.”
While encouraging investment in America is necessary, we should not compromise security. Allowing foreign entities, especially those that are considered nation-state competitors and adversaries, to conduct this type of business opens the door for them to own our critical infrastructure.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) usually reviews major foreign investments into U.S. projects for any red flags related to national security vulnerabilities. The CFIUS, however, authorized GH America Energy’s Texas wind farm plans in June, despite former CIA officer and then-representative Will Hurd, R-District 23, saying the approval was “scary” and cause for concern.
Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-District 23, told the Free Beacon the wind farm was part of a larger effort from the Chinese Communist Party to undermine the United States. The congressman introduced a bill in April that would ban land acquisition by adversaries within 50 miles of a military operations area, or 100 miles of a military installation. “China’s literally in my backyard here in my district,” said Gonzales, who succeeded Hurd in the statehouse. “What I don’t want to see happen is that we wake up and the amount of Air Force pilots we are creating is cut in half because of some wind farm that the Chinese government put up and we could have stopped this. Those are the kind of games the Communist Party plays.”
Campbell pointed out that only three electrical power grids serve the mainland United States. These grids’ vulnerabilities became evident during February’s winter storm. Another distinct possibility is that the turbines and associated infrastructure can be used as a cyber capability.
“Whatever happens to Texas can affect the nation," Campbell said. "We can’t allow hostile nations to get a foot in our critical infrastructure. Other states have to assess enterprises going on within their own borders.”