Library from Oklahoma
"We are supportive of green energy, but this is what you could call dirty-green energy," Hamilton said. "Wind farms are an industrial project and we are saying, 'Please don't put your industrial operations in one of the last tallgrass prairies. If you do this, you could create a dead zone for prairie chickens.' "
Wildlife advocates argue they're not on some quixotic quest - not tilting at windmills. The extinction of dozens, if not hundreds, of animal species by man's encroachment over the years is powerful evidence that we must zealously protect endangered species. We cannot allow Darwin to just sort it out.
The Nature Conservancy has been an opponent of wind development in the proposed area, saying the turbines would fragment the last unspoiled prairie in the U.S., disrupting breeding grounds for prairie chickens, birds of prey, and other fauna. "This is the last frontier for the tallgrass prairie left in America," said Bob Hamilton.
Jimmy Glotfelty, Clean Line's executive vice president for external affairs, said he is optimistic commissioners will approve the company's application, which he admitted raises new issues for state regulators.
Two audience members brought up concerns involving Altus Air Force Base. Eyerly freely admitted that AAFB would prefer that Wind Works "relocate the project 30 miles away." ...The easiest way to do so, he thought, would be to build another radar tower on the other side of the base at the wind company's expense.
"It's a tricky kind of difficult issue for the Nature Conservancy. We are a conservation organization," Hamilton said, "so we are tremendously supportive of all alternative types of energy production. Our concern comes down to more less, location, location, location."
Osage County commissioners tabled a vote Monday on a proposed wind energy ordinance that has been criticized by tribal leaders and conservationists who say it needs "more teeth" to protect one of the last stretches of tallgrass prairie in the United States.
Clean Line Energy representatives hope to resolve a number of issues with landowners before they connect a transmission line to wind turbines in northwest Oklahoma. For that reason, company representatives have asked for and have been granted a continuance until early March on a hearing that would grant the Houston-based company public utility status in Oklahoma with Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
The Southern Great Plains Property Rights Coalition has reached an agreement to withdraw its challenge to Clean Line Energy's bid for utility status in Oklahoma, but coalition leaders said the group has not endorsed the company's application.
Wind turbines are large, industrial machines, some reaching 300 feet in diameter. And the turbines don't come by themselves - the developments will include access roads, transmission lines and transformer stations. It may not be the worst kind of industrialization, but wind farms still amount to industrialization, says Don Wolfe, a researcher at the Sutton Avian Research Center in Bartlesville.
The Tennesseee Valley Authority favors a Houston company's effort to build an electrical connection between windmills in Oklahoma and Texas and power users in the Tennessee Valley. The proposed $3.5 billion project would use direct current rather than the alternating current.
While being grilled by Missouri regulators on the rising costs of planned transmission lines, Southwest Power Pool Inc.'s CEO and a senior vice president said Nov. 23 that they "don't know" why the initial cost estimates were not more rigorously examined for accuracy.
Clean Line's plan to transmit electricity for sale in other states "eliminates" it as a candidate for such status in Oklahoma, according to the OIPA motion. The groups also are concerned Clean Line is seeking utility status only so it can acquire condemnation powers.
We're not opposed to new energies, just the notion that taxpayers - and, potentially, a huge pool of rate payers - must subsidize their viability. Congress needs a thorough debate on this issue as well as other attempts to implement green and global warming policy through federal regulatory agencies.
The Chisholm View Wind Project, located in the Hunter and Kremlin area, covers 40,000 acres of leased land. TradeWind Energy, a company out of Lenexa, Kan., which has leased that land, may someday soon build wind turbines there to generate electricity.
It often seems as if the wind never stops blowing in Oklahoma.
"This is work that should have been done 10 years ago when the first wind turbines were going up," Adams said. Horton said lesser prairie chickens may be seen on wind farms, but studies have shown that they avoid vertical structures. "If you're not producing little prairie chickens pretty soon you don't have big prairie chickens," he said.
That's because general plans for the 345-kilovolt route, known as the V-Plan and including a connecting line into Oklahoma, appear to take the line through prime nesting and breeding habitat for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken in both states. With an estimated two-thirds of the unique bird's original habitat already eliminated by development, officials warn that further encroachment could place the bird on the nation's endangered species list.
Don't get me wrong. The donations are commendable. OG&E doesn't have to give away any money in compensation for pushing prairie chickens off their homes. No other energy company has stepped up to the plate with a similar gesture. But will it really save the birds?
Stocking is one of about 200 people on the e-mail list for the newly formed Southern Great Plains Property Rights Coalition, a group of landowners fighting for fair compensation as wind development changes the landscape.