Transmission wires could end at substation in north Tulsa County
Planning for the 360-mile Wind Catcher Energy Connection line from the giant proposed wind farm in the Oklahoma Panhandle to a substation at Tulsa is nearing completion, save for three sections, one of which is the final approach into Tulsa.
The site of the substation is part of that mix, according to Stan Whiteford, a spokesman for American Electric Power-Public Service Company of Oklahoma.
“Our original plan has it being in north Tulsa (County) near (U.S.) 75, but that’s not in stone, depending on the route of approach,” he said.
Multiple alignments and segments have been studied since October, and the line now generally takes a more northerly path among the routes first considered.
The company held 11 public meetings in the fall and posted a virtual open house on its website through which people could offer comments until the end of 2017.
One of the sections still in question is east of Pawnee and passes between Cleveland and Hominy on its way to the Tulsa area. Letters went out to affected landowners on Wednesday that included notification of an open house set for 4-7 p.m. Jan. 29 at the Pawnee County Fairgrounds.
“What we learn there will help us really determine how that last segment will look, and here it will need to tie into a new substation, so that’s the last piece of the puzzle,” Whiteford said.
The meeting is necessary because some of the landowners along the newly considered route were not contacted during the earlier round of public meetings.
The 360-mile line, which would originate in Cimarron County at the proposed Wind Catcher wind farm, is the largest and longest PSO has undertaken, Whiteford said.
“I can think of ones that are 50, 60, 80 — but 350 or 360 miles, that’s definitely unusual,” he said.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is scheduled to begin hearing public comments on the wind farm Thursday in Oklahoma City.
The $4.5 billion wind farm, connection lines and substations are projected to be operational before Jan. 1, 2021.
Other sections of the line that are being discussed further include a stretch north of Woodward and another northwest of Enid.
The line’s structure itself will be composed of 1,400 to 1,750 towers placed every 1,000 to 1,500 feet along the route. Each tower is 140 feet tall with a base that is 40 to 50 feet across. The right of way will be 200 feet wide.
The lattice structures are similar to others in the area, only slightly taller, Whiteford said.
“If you’ve been up around Oologah and seen the lines that come from the power plant and come across the country from there, they would be very similar in look, just slightly taller,” he said.
Right-of-way acquisition for the route is subject to eminent domain, but Whiteford said that is a last-resort measure in working with landowners and setting a route.
“We do everything in our power to avoid getting to that point,” he said. “We have some pretty experienced folks in negotiating right of way with landowners. Yes, it’s possible it can happen, but we really have a philosophy that we make sure, No. 1, we are aware and take in all environmental concerns and, two, that we make sure landowners are treated fairly.”
The project promises to bring low-cost renewable energy and jobs to the state and provide new tax revenue, according to PSO.
The project, a joint effort between PSO and Southwestern Electric Power Co., is intended to deliver power to customers in eastern and southwestern Oklahoma, as well as parts of Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana.
“At PSO we are committed to working with landowners and the community to bring the benefits of Wind Catcher to customers,” John Harper, PSO vice president for external affairs said in a news release. “In addition to bringing customers some of the lowest-cost power available, the communities along the line route will see approximately $300 million in additional property taxes over the next 25 years.”
Wind Catcher Public Meetings
Open house meetings on the Wind Catcher Connection are set for 4-7 p.m. on the following dates and locations.
• Monday, Jan. 29, Pawnee Women’s Building, Pawnee Country Fairgrounds, 510 W. Memorial, Pawnee.
• Tuesday, Jan. 30, Woodward County Fairgrounds, Exhibit Hall B, 108 Temple Houston Dr., Woodward
• Wednesday, Jan. 31, Enid Event Center, Grand Ballroom, 301 S. Independence, Enid
The open house events are set up in a workshop format. Attendees can talk with project team members, review detailed maps and provide input. Electrical planners, engineers, routing experts, right-of-way agents and construction representatives will be present to answer questions. Guests can come and go anytime during the events since there is no formal presentation.
For more information on the project go to psoklahoma.com/info/projects/windcatcher/ .