(September 16, 2020)
The pace of wind power growth in Texas has been so rapid that the story of a planned 254-megawatt wind farm in Val Verde County may at first hardly seem newsworthy. But the Blue Hills Wind development is attracting a lot of attention because its owners, GH America Energy, are a subsidiary of a Chinese conglomerate controlled by a former military officer.
GH America Energy is owned by Guanghui Industry Investment, whose main shareholder is Sun Guangxin. Sun appears on Forbes’ list of billionaires and is a senior member of the Communist Party.
According to Rep. Will Hurd, who represents the district west of San Antonio, Texas, where the proposed project would be located, the involvement of a major Chinese company raises concerns of grid stability and national security. In a recent opinion piece for the Houston Chronicle, he suggested that China could exploit grid access and disrupt operations.
“When the Texas utility sector deregulated — resulting in the ability for any entity to provide power to the grid as long as their application was ‚administratively complete‘ — those involved did not predict a company friendly with a hostile foreign government would try to connect to our power grid,” wrote Hurd. “Allowing an adversary to connect to our power grid enables the attacker to perform a false data injection attack — where the attacker spoofs the system’s monitoring tools to falsely think activity is happening on the grid.”
The Congressman argues that this wind farm project risks a situation like the 2003 blackout, when 50 million people in the northeastern United States temporarily lost power. The blackout occurred after the failure of several generators in Ohio triggered a cascade of power failures. Hurd suggests that a similar event could be intentionally provoked by the Chinese company to cause disruption.