Library from Oklahoma
OGE Energy Corp. is ready to catch more air. The company announced Tuesday its subsidiary, Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co., is seeking proposals from wind power developers to provide up to 300 more megawatts of wind-generated power by late 2010.
The only people who don't like wind farms are the people who don't have one - that was the punch line of a humorous story T. Boone Pickens told the crowd at Revolution: Oklahoma Wind Conference on Tuesday. But on Wednesday, conference attendees heard from a few people who are concerned that the wind industry is growing too fast to fully account for its effect on the environment, the economy and a multitude of secondary issues.
But consumers need to realize that wind power is not a reliable energy source when the wind does not blow, Rice said. "We have 51 megawatts of wind generation, but we only get 4 megawatts of capacity for it because it's not dependable," Rice said. "And we had to put a gas turbine at our power facility at Ponca City to back it up, because if the wind suddenly dies, you've got to have that power back on immediately."
More than 100 Tulsans were blindsided by the news they'll lose their jobs at the start of the new year in an industry thought to be one of a few bright spots in our economy in crisis. Wind energy is a relatively new industry to this part of the country. ...The managers of the Tulsa plant would not comment on camera. But, the corporation released a written statement: "The plant closure is due to wind farm developers' difficulty in receiving financing. And due to that lack of financing developers are forced to delay upcoming projects."
Customers who have decided to participate in the greener energy alternative will be paying 2.8 cents more per kilowatt hour used. The increase will take effect starting with Jan. 2009 billing. Duncan Power Electric Utility Director David Yeager said the adjustment is one that is necessary to continue providing the option to Duncan Power members.
In late May, the first shipment of 80-foot wind tower sections produced at the DMI Industries plant in Catoosa hit the road, headed for a wind farm project in northern Texas.
Wind energy could supply up to 20 percent of the nation's power supply but the two variables few talk about are reliability and transmission. The places where the wind blows the most -- like western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle -- also have few residents or businesses that need the power. To achieve the kind of wind power percentage that some states are mandating will require between 12,000 and 19,000 miles of new power lines criss-crossing the country. That kind of power line construction will cost up to $6.4 billion.
Wind power is one of the solutions to our energy needs both here in Oklahoma and beyond, as well as providing a new industry and the jobs that support it. ...Also noteworthy is the potential for wind energy to be not so green after all. Wind farms, like any type of development, built on the wrong site can have a negative impact on the environment. Strides toward solving one conservation problem should not inadvertently cause another.
The industry of building and operating wind turbines is "going big guns." That's Rocky Waller's perception as his agency and others create programs to keep workers in this emerging industry safe. ..."There are people going into this industry that have never worked around a wind farm construction site or within the turbines themselves," Waller said. "We are talking shoe salesmen, burger flippers and police officers. "They don't realize the dangers."
[W]ind farm neighbors are worried, however, about the safety of the turbines, which can leak chemicals if they aren't maintained properly. Those who live in the hills say it happens, and they are worried that the chemicals could leak into their watershed. Bill Cunningham says he has contacted Horizon Wind Energy, and they have been extremely cooperative. He says they hired a private research company to study the wind turbines, and found they indeed were leaking. Although the company says it wasn't a large enough amount to be concerned with, they still hired private crews to clean up. Now, with more turbines being erected, locals continue to worry about future maintenance.
"We're taking the holistic approach," she said, adding that the department is also working with Oklahoma's two largest electricity utility companies, OG&E and PSO, to help further the companies' efforts to increase the percentage of their power that comes from wind. And if that's not enough, The State Chamber is directing traffic to both the Commerce Web site and another industry resource, Windustry.org. Windustry, a nonprofit organization based in Minnesota, provides educational materials, an information hotline, outreach events and more to promote the development of wind power.
"Make no mistake, this is all about the production and the money," said Greg Adams, a technical consultant who develops wind farms for Edmond-based Chermac Energy Corp. "I can build a wind farm anywhere in the state of Oklahoma. To make it profitable is another story. None of these wind farms get built unless they have a return on investment. That's what investors are looking for." What makes a good location?
Piedmont officials want to know how badly residents want to fight plans by Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. to construct a 345,000-volt power line through the fastest growing part of the city, Mayor Mike Fina said. At a Monday night town hall meeting at Piedmont First Baptist Church, more than 400 people filled out surveys after listening to presentations by OG&E officials and engineers, Fina said. OG&E plans by 2010 to build a 120-mile power line from wind farms south of Woodward to just south of NW 164 between Rockwell Avenue and Council Road.
About 400 people gathered Monday night at Piedmont First Baptist Church to voice their concerns over a proposed power transmission line scheduled to cut through the community's fastest growing area. Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. officials plan to build a 120-mile-long power line from wind farms south of Woodward to northwest Oklahoma City. OG&E officials attended the town hall meeting and fielded questions from residents.
About 500 people are expected to gather for a public meeting on the power line issue at Piedmont First Baptist Church Monday at 6:30 p.m. [Piedmont Mayor Mike] Fina said he hopes OG&E will listen to what residents have to say and consider a compromise on the issue.
Landowners are getting lucrative offers to lease land to build turbines for an energy source.
The wind is free, but the cost of harnessing its power doesn't come cheaply. Each wind turbine can cost more than $1 million. Transporting the power from western Oklahoma to the population centers is even more expensive. Texas, for example, is investing almost $5 billion to create its own transmission system.
A plucky little bird in northwest Oklahoma - known for its comical mating dances in which it patters around like a jittery wind-up toy - has found itself pitted against an unlikely environmental foe.
Biologists say power-generating wind turbines proposed for northwestern Oklahoma could push the lesser prairie chicken onto the endangered species list or even into extinction. Huge wind turbines have been proposed across the lesser prairie chicken's habitat in Oklahoma, but it is not the turbine's blades that pose a threat to the birds. Information obtained from radio collar tracking indicate that lesser prairie chickens usually won't go near wind turbines
But not everyone is caught up in the wind power craze. Some people don't believe wind project developers are offering fair leases. Others don't like wind power projects simply because they spoil the view, and because they didn't know what was coming until construction crews arrived. There also are both environmental and wildlife concerns. ...Covey said that counties ought to consider protecting their residents by requiring zoning for wind development projects, but that he doesn't support the Legislature requiring the zoning, saying it's a county's choice. He added that all wind developers should hold town hall meetings for everyone near potential project areas so they can be informed.