Library from Oklahoma
Nine landowners concerned about OG&E putting transmission lines in bar ditches along their land voiced complaints to the Woodward County Commission Monday, saying the county needed to hold the energy company accountable. ...According to another land owner, concrete bases 20 feet deep are being constructed to hold the poles for the transmission lines. Klick said, "These poles are 80 feet tall. They have a detrimental value to everybody's land."
Two judges in northwestern Oklahoma have ruled for Oklahoma Gas and Electric in separate imminent domain cases over transmission lines. OG&E wants to build a 112-mile-long transmission line to carry electricity from wind farms near Woodward to Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. has won the first two skirmishes in a legal battle with northwestern Oklahoma landowners over the utility's authority to have private property condemned for a high-voltage transmission line. The 112-mile-long, 345-kilovolt transmission line would be used to move electricity to the Oklahoma City area from wind farms near Woodward.
Purvine and John Oler, a landowner near Watonga, dispute that there was much negotiation. "They came to us and made an offer and said we would either take that offer or they would file eminent domain," Purvine said. "There was no recourse. That's the way it was." Oler, 64, said the OG&E representative essentially told him, "Do it our way, or we condemn you."
Conflict is brewing between Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. and some northwestern Oklahoma landowners over OG&E's attempts to condemn property for a high-voltage transmission line to transport wind-generated electricity. "I have a neighbor with a pacemaker. He told me he will never be able to go on his property again," said Jimmie Purvine, 61, who is fighting condemnation of a 1 1/2 -mile long strip across his Dewey County property.
As wind use becomes more popular nationwide, landowners need to be aware of lease potentials and pitfalls. Corporate Learning at Oklahoma City Community College has received inquires from landowners who have requested information on how to negotiate a land lease. In response, OCCC and the Phillips Murrah Law firm joined forces to present the Wind Power for Landowners seminar.
Wind farm leasing in Oklahoma is a little like the Wild West. Experts say there's virtually no regulation and lots of opportunity for landowners to either profit or make deals they'll later regret. "It's very much a wildcatter's environment with a lot of speculation going on," said former Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth, who now handles alternative energy legal issues in his job as an attorney with the Phillips Murrah law firm.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission recently voted to secure millions of dollars for conservation projects with OG&E and Tulsa-based NatureWorks as well as set important hunting regulations and dates for new seasons on black bear, antelope, elk and others. At its April meeting, the Commission approved a memorandum of agreement with OG&E. Through the agreement, OG&E will invest $3.75 million to help offset the impact of the "OU Spirit" wind farm on lesser prairie chickens and other wildlife in northwest Oklahoma.
Roger Mills County resident Scott Shillingstad said the noises emitted by wind turbines on a neighbor's property are worse than annoying. They're unbearable. "It sounds like we have an international airport next door to us," Shillingstad said. "Our health is being threatened. We're about ready to abandon our property."
The closure this month of Trinity's Tank Car Inc.'s freight railcar manufacturing plant in Oklahoma City affected about 250 hourly and administrative employees. Tulsa-based Trinity Structural Towers Inc., which produced towers for wind farms, closed Jan. 16. About 130 hourly and administrative workers lost their jobs. Employees at both facilities were given a 60-day notice, the company said.
The Times noted, however, that while policymakers and environmentalists "love the idea of generating clean power from the sun, wind, water and geothermal sources to displace imported oil," the Cape Wind problems illustrate how locally, "there is often opposition to the hardware needed to make renewable power work: big windmills, acres of solar panels and large-scale transmission lines."
"The normal house uses approximately 3,000 kilowatts a month," Travis said at the time. "The generator will produce approximately 1,000 to 1,200 kilowatts a month at eight mile per hour winds, based on an eight-hour day." But that has not been the case for Lingenfelter's turbine, which has produced only about 770 kilowatts of power since it was first activated June 1 ..."It's far underperformed."
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.