Article

Some land owners saying transmission lines are the downside to wind energy

Wind energy often is described as a win-win situation, but Gary Stocking said he sees "a sacrificial lamb" when it comes to developing transmission lines to carry the electricity harnessed by wind turbines. "The lamb is the landowner," Stocking said during a public meeting last week in Buffalo to discuss the development of transmission lines in Harper County.

BUFFALO - Wind energy often is described as a win-win situation, but Gary Stocking said he sees "a sacrificial lamb" when it comes to developing transmission lines to carry the electricity harnessed by wind turbines.

"The lamb is the landowner," Stocking said during a public meeting last week in Buffalo to discuss the development of transmission lines in Harper County.

As a fourth-generation farmer and rancher in southeast Woodward County who already has dealt with construction of transmission lines on his land, Stocking said he wanted to inform other landowners what they would be facing and to prepare for what was coming.

He said he has heard northwest Oklahoma is destined to become the "Saudi Arabia of wind energy," which means "lots of (transmission) lines" will be crisscrossing the area.

"What got me up here was being told by (an energy company), they'd just take my land, and they did," Stocking said.

"These lines in my case run down the middle of my section (of land) and are 200 feet wide," he said. "I can't even tell you what that does to my land value."

The people want to know

More than 150 people from Oklahoma and... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

BUFFALO - Wind energy often is described as a win-win situation, but Gary Stocking said he sees "a sacrificial lamb" when it comes to developing transmission lines to carry the electricity harnessed by wind turbines.

"The lamb is the landowner," Stocking said during a public meeting last week in Buffalo to discuss the development of transmission lines in Harper County.

As a fourth-generation farmer and rancher in southeast Woodward County who already has dealt with construction of transmission lines on his land, Stocking said he wanted to inform other landowners what they would be facing and to prepare for what was coming.

He said he has heard northwest Oklahoma is destined to become the "Saudi Arabia of wind energy," which means "lots of (transmission) lines" will be crisscrossing the area.

"What got me up here was being told by (an energy company), they'd just take my land, and they did," Stocking said.

"These lines in my case run down the middle of my section (of land) and are 200 feet wide," he said. "I can't even tell you what that does to my land value."

The people want to know

More than 150 people from Oklahoma and southwest Kansas turned out for the meeting in Buffalo. While many were from the Buffalo area, some traveled from as far away as Okarche, Yukon and Dodge City, Kan.

They represented a wide range of occupations, from teachers and realtors to electrical contractors and welders. But many were just farmers and ranchers like Stocking whose land potentially will be impacted by a transmission line planned by Southwest Power Pool to cross through the east side of Harper County to connect to a substation near Wood-ward, allowing for distribution of energy generated by area wind farms.

The transmission line is in the planning stages, ac-cording to Jaime McAlpine, president of the wind development company Chermac Energy Corp., of Edmond.

He was one of several officials who spoke at the meeting. He has a vested interest in seeing the transmission line completed as Chermac En-ergy is in the process of developing a 765-megawatt wind farm in the Buffalo area. The company, which he said is owned by him and his wife, previously helped develop the OG&E Centennial wind farm and the Sleeping Bear wind farm, both of which are located in Harper County.

McAlpine was unable to answer several questions posed to him by audience members, which varied from, "How deep are the transmission towers set in the ground?" to "What causes electro-magnetic fields around the transmission lines?"

However, he was able to answer one man's question about whether a transmission line could be built directly over his home.

"No line will go directly over your house," McAlpine said, noting the line would be "diverted and adjusted" to a minimum distance around homes.

Some things to watch for

Also speaking was Shannon Ferrell, an assistant professor in the Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics. He specializes in agricultural law.

Ferrell used his expertise, which includes years in private practice focusing on environmental, energy and corporate law, to point out legal issues landowners should be aware of when considering easement agreements.

These issues range from consideration of the type of easement granted to how the easement will affect the use of land.

Ferrell said easements can either be temporary or perpetual in terms of length of time and all encompassing in terms of access as in a blanket easement, or they can restrict access to specific areas.

He said placement of the easement can be important because if it is not placed far enough from property lines, a person might not be able to fully utilize their land by not having enough space to maneuver equipment.

He used these as examples of other considerations landowners should have beyond the money being offered to them in exchange for the easement.

"The first thing we think of is the dollar," he said, but noted landowners should look beyond the compensation offered and consider what rights and obligations are being established by the easement contract.

If landowners are thinking about money, Ferrell suggested they think about making an investment in an attorney to re-view easement proposals, noting "in the long run it will be money well spent," because easements are complicated legal matters.

In addition, Ferrell also addressed a series of questions from landowners, one of which involved who has the authority to grant easements on already leased property.

According to Ferrell, if a landowner has leased the land, the lessee can grant an easement to an energy company for transmission lines with or without the approval of the landowner. This is because the lessee ultimately has the surface rights, he said.

Ferrell said when the property is leased, language needs to be written into the lease that will provide protection to the landowner from this situation.


Source: http://enidnews.com/localne...

FEB 27 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/24842-some-land-owners-saying-transmission-lines-are-the-downside-to-wind-energy
back to top