Article

Citizens seek wind farm moratorium

Canadian County Commissioners have been asked to place a moratorium on construction of new wind energy towers in northeast Canadian County. Several concerned residents, worried about a project that will bring large wind turbines to the Piedmont area. "It is a big county concern," County Commission Chairman Jack Stewart said.

Canadian County Commissioners have been asked to place a moratorium on construction of new wind energy towers in northeast Canadian County.

Several concerned residents, worried about a project that will bring large wind turbines to the Piedmont area, spoke at Monday morning's Commissioners' meeting in El Reno.

"It is a big county concern," County Commission Chairman Jack Stewart said.

Apex Wind Energy is acquiring property in Canadian County to build what is touted as the "largest wind farm" in Oklahoma. Apex in May started construction of Canadian Hills Wind, a 300 MW wind energy facility located just outside Oklahoma City. Upon completion, this wind farm will increase the state's installed wind energy generating capacity by about 15%.

The project will include installation of hundreds of large wind turbines, which are used to make
electrical power as part of a transmission network.

Apex has been working with communities in Canadian County "to bring this project to fruition," according to the company's website.

Longtime Canadian County resident and realtor Pam Suttles leads a group of Piedmont-area residents opposed to the wind energy project.

"We do not need to... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Canadian County Commissioners have been asked to place a moratorium on construction of new wind energy towers in northeast Canadian County.

Several concerned residents, worried about a project that will bring large wind turbines to the Piedmont area, spoke at Monday morning's Commissioners' meeting in El Reno.

"It is a big county concern," County Commission Chairman Jack Stewart said.

Apex Wind Energy is acquiring property in Canadian County to build what is touted as the "largest wind farm" in Oklahoma. Apex in May started construction of Canadian Hills Wind, a 300 MW wind energy facility located just outside Oklahoma City. Upon completion, this wind farm will increase the state's installed wind energy generating capacity by about 15%.

The project will include installation of hundreds of large wind turbines, which are used to make
electrical power as part of a transmission network.

Apex has been working with communities in Canadian County "to bring this project to fruition," according to the company's website.

Longtime Canadian County resident and realtor Pam Suttles leads a group of Piedmont-area residents opposed to the wind energy project.

"We do not need to have those in our communities," Suttles said of the tall wind turbines. "We
have to say no."

Suttles told Commissioners she was "shocked" to hear wind farms were coming to eastern Canadian County. This area has among the state's highest per capita income, valuable farm land and a low unemployment rate.

Suttles cited research indicating that property values drop 25-50% within two miles of large wind turbines. She believes the decline will be even greater in northeast Canadian County which she called a "commuter community ... not rural."

The presence of wind turbines planned on both sides of Northwest Expressway will make that land less desirable for both builders and developers, Suttles opined.

This will lead to a "distressed" housing market, she believes, which would result in vacant
homes, lower property values, less ad valorem taxes for schools, and more crime.

This also would negatively affect businesses, Suttles told Commissioners, saying "400 wind turbines" won't generate sales tax revenue - but "new construction and homeowners will."

She cited safety concerns with the mammoth turbines, particularly those built close to homes.

"Nothing is safe," Suttles said. "Those blades have gone through buildings and cars."

She mentioned that Great Britain has banned land-based wind farms and other countries are considering such action.

Suttles provided Commissioners with volumes of information, including surveys from other
communities listing other wind farm hazards: Traffic safety, lower TV reception, blinking
lights, noise/sound, lightning strikes, ugly appearance, road damage, and stress/anxiety.

Northeast Canadian County resident John Guthrie asked County Commissioners to place a moratorium on this wind tower farm. Guthrie cited "mass miscommunication" among Apex and citizens about the project and he believes accurate information must be provided to the people who are directly affected.

Suttles provided Commissioners with a stack of news articles from communities across the country that placed moratoriums on wind turbine construction. She said she'd also provide them with "sample" moratoriums they could use as a guide.

Another concerned citizen, Melissa Ashford, listed some health risks associated with wind energy farms. There has been no controlled study into wind turbine syndrome and similar maladies faced by people who allow turbines built on their properties, Ashford emphasized.

She listed health problems associated with wind farms: High blood pressure, high glucose levels
in diabetics, headaches, dizziness, nausea, insomnia, inability to concentrate, and depression.

CARSON OPPOSED

District 1 Canadian County Commissioner Phil Carson sides with those concerned residents the represents.

The wind turbines "should not be east of Highway 81," Carson said, prompting applause from the audience.

Property owners who permit wind towers on their land "are not thinking far enough ahead," the
District 1 commissioner added.

Carson cited the "northwest expansion of Oklahoma City" into Canadian County over the past
few decades. Canadian County is the fastest growing county in Oklahoma, with 31.8% growth between
the 2000 and 2010 censuses.

"There's got to be a line drawn in the sand," Carson said.

The three-term commissioner is strongly opposed to wind farm development "into the expansion
and growth area of Piedmont, Oklahoma City, Yukon, and El Reno."

While opposed to this wind farm in his district, Carson said he is unsure what action County
Commissioners could take to limit construction.

Canadian County does not have zoning regulations in unincorporated parts of the county -
other than floodplain.

"I don't know what we can legally do," Carson said.

After the meeting, Commissioner Carson said he "totally believes in wind power" and is a
"hard core advocate."

"But not in expansion and growth areas of large cities - only in lightly populated, rural areas
where growth is not expected in the close future," he said.

GENERATING ELECTRICITY

When completed, the $470 million Canadian Hills Wind project will generate enough electricity
to satisfy the needs of approximately 100,000 homes, according to Apex Energy's website.

"This is a good example of Apex's strategy to develop and build high-value projects with
our partners," Apex President Mark Goodwin said in a news release. "We have assembled a strong team and a national portfolio to bring turnkey project solutions to our utility, strategic and
financial counterparties."

Apex secured long-term power purchase agreements for 100% of the project's capacity with three electric utilities in the region, according to the release.

Apex officials emphasize the new wind farm will provide "clean, renewable and homegrown
energy" while generating "significant economic benefits" for communities in the region.

The Canadian Hills Wind project will provide about $2.4 million annually in tax revenue to benefit local school districts and payments to project landowners will be about $1.8 million annually, according to the Apex site.

During construction, the Canadian Hills project will employ nearly 200 people; and another 15-20 permanent jobs will be created to manage the project's long-term operations.

Based in Charlottesville, Va., Apex Wind Energy was founded in 2009 and has become one of the fastest-growing wind energy companies in the United States.


Source: http://www.yukonreview.net/...

DEC 5 2012
http://www.windaction.org/posts/35524-citizens-seek-wind-farm-moratorium
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