Billionaire hedge funder Louis Moore Bacon is generally media-shy, but when it comes to his beloved Colarado ranch, the 54-year-old is willing to vault into the spotlight.Soon, ugly solar-power transmission lines could be installed across his 171,400-acre Trinchera Ranch by Xcel Energy and the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, the Denver Post reports.
That’s the last thing Bacon wants.
He argues that the area is a “state and national treasure,” and, because it’s home to Colorado’s third-highest mountain, it should be spared miles of ugly power lines.
Apparently Sting agrees.
According to the Denver Post, when it comes to fighting this fight, Sting has Bacon’s back.
Bacon’s Colorado full-press PR campaign to highlight alternative routes for the transmission line is far reaching. Superstar crooner Sting this summer visited the Denver Art Museum and paused to gaze at a painting of [Bacon’s property] Trinchera’s Mount Blanca, on loan to the museum by Bacon.
As if on cue, Sting told a gallery of invited reporters he’d be “very upset if there was a huge system of power lines in front of it.”
The reasons Bacon wants the lines off his property aren’t as superficial.
First of all, he bought the ranch 2007 from Malcolm Forbes for $175 million, on the “promise he would continue the ranch’s environmental legacy.”
Also, fighting for the environment seems to run in the Bacon family. Bacon’s grandpa was nicknamed the “Bully” for his efforts to protect forest areas in South Carolina. So Louis is obviously a chip off the old block.
But of course its not just a bonus that Bacon, if he gets his way, will get to keep his estate pretty.
Here’s why Bacon says he’s getting on his soapbox, as he told the Denver Post:
“Having helped many others in their fights against outside, profit-oriented polluters, I couldn’t shirk this battle when I know there is so much at stake for the San Luis Valley residents, the range, the environment, the animals and for all of Colorado,” he said.
“When a profit-seeking company proposes to take citizens’ private land away for its own gain, people should stand up for their rights. All I did was slow down the utilities’ reckless effort long enough to give other landowners a chance to understand what they were being railroaded into.”
Bacon has already spent $100,000 on publicity fighting against the two power companies.
Money well spent, since he’s managed to delay the 2013 project deadline by several years. He’s also met with politicians to discuss the issue, and hired a team of attorneys to design alternatives routes for the lines.
His opponents claim its all an effort to advance solar energy. Their talking points against Bacon are:
- Western Resource Advocates, the area’s local environmental law and policy group, supports the project
- The project would meet new clean-energy requirements and provide solar-powered energy to Colarado, which has “clearly expressed their desire… to develop solar potential.”
- Wildlife experts say tranmission lines would “not cause any direct significant impact to any species.”