Many of us in Cooke County have had concerns with transparency issues associated with Energias de Portugal’s (EDP) proposed Wildcat Creek Wind Energy project.
I was surprised to recently learn from a May 14, 2018 Reuters story that China Three Gorges Corp. was a major stockholder of EDP (23% ownership) and was in talks to buy the remainder of the company.
But there are others in talks to buy parts of EDP China Three Gorges Corporation will likely be forced to sell by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), a federal interagency committee led by the Treasury Department and other national security agencies. As a former member of CFIUS when I served as deputy secretary of commerce, I have extensive insight on how CFIUS views the national security implications of such transactions.
So according to Bloomberg (March 13, 2019) other interested parties to buy parts of EDP include Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, national utilities such as France’s Engie SA and Blackstone Infrastructure Partners.
I can’t help but wonder if this was disclosed to the Cooke County Commissioners Court before they voted to create the enterprise zone to benefit EDP’s Wildcat Creek proposal or what extent of due diligence the Commissioners’ Court conducted on the parent company and their ownership structure. What kind of due diligence or background checks did the Muenster ISD board conduct before voting to accept EDP’s 313 tax relief application and send it to the state comptroller?
This is an interesting microcosm of China’s long-term, well-documented strategy. EDP as the former state-owned utility in Portugal, is one of the country’s largest land owners. The Chinese state-owned enterprises and other Chinese companies are either buying land or mineral or land use rights all across the globe, in many countries. I just didn’t know they had their eyes on Texas.
China Three Gorges Corp. built the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River and since 2012 it has been the world’s largest power station. Construction caused significant internal unrest in Hubei Province due to flooded archaeological and cultural sites, forcibly displacing some 1.3 million people and causing significant ecological changes including an increased risk of landslides.
I suspect the residents of Cooke County wouldn’t approve of the County Commissioners Court or the Muenster ISD board granting a tax abatement to a Portuguese energy company whose major shareholder is a Chinese state-owned enterprise. But one also has to wonder why a company that is so profitable that they have sovereign wealth funds, national utilities and private equity funds lined up to purchase pieces of the company needs taxpayer subsidies from the Cooke County Commissioners Court and the Muenster ISD to do business here?
Does a company that built the world’s largest hydro-electric dam really need subsidies from Cooke County taxpayers to build wind turbines here?
David A. Sampson, Gainesville