Articles from Oklahoma
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.
Residents concerned about a plan for a massive power line are expected to crowd into a city council meeting Monday evening, Councilman John Brown said. Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. plans to build a 120-mile wind power transmission line from near Woodward to northwest Oklahoma City. ...Brown said he has taken dozens of telephone calls from residents who are upset about the power line, which will carry 345,000 volts of electricity atop 115-foot-tall poles.
Landowners along a proposed 120-mile wind power line that cuts through Kingfisher and Canadian counties are planning more meetings to discuss possible legal action against Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co., a spokesman for concerned landowners said. About 100 people attended a two-and-a-half-hour meeting at Rose Rock Bank in Kingfisher on Tuesday night. Many who attended said they were not notified in advance of past public meetings sponsored by OG&E concerning the planned line. Brent Snider, who is building a house northwest of Okarche near the proposed line, said ..."We are going to meet with a lawyer and we are going to get a fund going for a lawyer,"
While most people are for developing this kind of green energy, landowners who are being told the transmission lines will cut across their land or run near their homes suddenly aren't so enthusiastic. In Kingfisher this week, residents expressed concerns about their rights as far as easements go and also are worried about any negative health consequences of the transmissions lines being nearby. Kingfisher officials say the lines will scrap a plan to build a city airport. Piedmont officials say the route of the lines divides their city.
Landowners along a proposed 120-mile Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co. power line should join together to oppose the line, a Woodward landowner said at a meeting Tuesday. Candyce Kline of Woodward was one of about 60 people concerned with the route of the proposed power line from Woodward to northwest Oklahoma City to be built by 2010 by OG&E. Rate payers would see an increase of about $1.50 on electric bills to pay for the line, which will deliver power from wind turbines.
From Woodward to northwest Oklahoma City, landowners are debating and bracing for the construction project. The power line is expected to carry 345,000 volts of electricity from wind turbines south of Woodward. The line will run southeast for about 120 miles to a power sub-station on NW 164 between Council Road and Rockwell Avenue. While wind power is expected to decrease the dependence on natural gas or coal to generate electricity, some ill winds are blowing down the line. Piedmont leaders are concerned OG&E's route will cut through the highest-valued property in their city limits and slow future growth. OG&E customers will foot the bill for the $211 million line by paying an extra $1.50 a month on their electric bill. A date to start construction has not been announced.
Northwest Oklahoma has been a location for oil and gas activity for years, but it also may be the home for the next big energy strike - wind energy. At least four companies currently are negotiating for leases to erect wind turbines to provide wind energy. GE, TradeWind Energy, Wind Energy Prototypes and Renewable Energy Systems are working in the northwest Oklahoma area, with a number of leases obtained in the Breckinridge, Garber and Hunter areas. Sources at Trade Winds Energy said there also has been interest in Grant County. Garfield County Clerk Kathy Hughes said there have been more than 40 memos of lease recorded in her office. ..."We're looking at northwest and north central Oklahoma, obviously because there is wind here," Arb said. "A wind farm needs three key elements to be present: wind, transmission capacity to get the electricity to market and community acceptance.
Wind farms will not be allowed on the state's public wildlife management areas. The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission voted unanimously Monday to prohibit wind energy development on all of the state's public wildlife management areas. Earlier this year, OG&E wanted to build a wind farm on the Cooper Wildlife Management Area near Woodward, property owned by the state Wildlife Department and used primarily for hunting. After public opposition from sportsmen, OG&E withdrew its request to the state Wildlife Department.
Construction of the enormous infrastructure needed to transform wind energy into electricity and move the power to market can have profound negative impacts on native habitat and wildlife resources. Some direct mortality can occur when birds or bats collide with rotating turbine blades or lines and towers, but by far the greatest impact comes from the displacement of prairie species by the tall structures, roadways, power lines and other development features associated with wind power generation and transmission. Another threat is for species such as the lesser prairie-chicken, which has declined to teetering on the precipice of listing under the Endangered Species Act. ...By placing wind power related structures within already disturbed sites, much of the natural resource impact and cost can be avoided. Such enlightened action can entail some increased up-front economic expense. So, the question becomes one of foresight versus short-term, economic expediency and continued natural resource decline.
Six wind tower sections left DMI Industries, located at the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, on Tuesday en route to a wind farm site in northern Texas. ...Less than a year ago, DMI Industries, an Otter Tail company, bought a plant built for Griffin Wheel -- a railcar manufacturer that never moved in -- to extend its geographic reach and meet the growing demand for wind towers in the southwestern states.
Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. today filed a renewable energy program with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission detailing its commitment to quadruple its wind energy capacity in the state to 770 megawatts (MW). The company described as an important first step its plan to construct a high-capacity transmission line betweenWoodward and Oklahoma City to further develop the state's vast wind energy potential. The filing also includes a request to begin providing a renewable energy option that will allow more OG&E customers to choose up to 100 percent renewable energy.
If a proposed transition line from Woodward to Guymon runs through Mead Ferguson's north Woodward County land, he thinks that is just fine. ...Mead was among 60 to 70 people who attended the first of four open houses offered by Oklahoma Gas and Electric. The meeting was held at the Josie Adams Cultural Center and was intended to act as an open exchange between the public and company executive with regard to a planned transmission line construction project that could impact land owners here. ...The transmission lines have been planned by the company to address an historic lack of transmission needed to carry the additional electricity that is produced by wind turbines here.
"The immediate challenge is to build transmission infrastructure to send wind energy to end users in other states," he said. Paying for the wind power transmission infrastructure is a complicated proposition involving state and federal regulators, the Southwest Power Pool, wind farm owners, landowners, Oklahoma-based utilities, utilities in other states - many east of the Mississippi River - who would buy the wind power created in Oklahoma and end users. "Our challenge is to encourage orderly development of this resource," Fleischaker said. The challenge includes fair compensation for Oklahoma resources. "We do not want to deliver an industry that exports revenues out of state," he said.
Producers, lobbyists and analysts are watching closely as Congress continues to weigh numerous tax provisions related to both renewable sources and to traditional oil and natural gas. Action this week was in the Senate, where an overwhelming majority approved an amendment dealing with tax breaks for renewable energy to House Resolution 3221, the Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008. ...One analyst and an electricity producer, in fact, were watching one issue specifically - the extension of a tax credit through 2009 for producing electricity from renewable sources, such as wind. Simply put? They were hoping for a longer extension.
OG&E spokesman Brian Alford said preliminary discussions with Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation about developing a wind farm generating plant on the Cooper Wildlife Management Area northwest of Woodward have been dropped. The announcement came after about three months of sometimes contentious discussions by local environmentalists and sportsmen, some of whom opposed the wind farm near Fort Supply. Alford said the original idea was to develop the wind energy farm on the wildlife area and provide income for the department of wildlife management. However, local activists found strong opposition which came from not only residents and sportsmen, but also from OG&E employees who also expressed concern.
Opponents to expanding wind energy on public land are voicing their opinions, and sometimes in a loud manner. About 50 of those opponents met Wednesday with OG&E Electric Services and Department of Wildlife Conservation officials to discuss concerns about expanding Centennial Wind Farm north of Fort Supply onto Cooper Wildlife Management Area. It is a scenario OG&E says will not happen. In light of growing local and statewide opposition and concern by wildlife organizations about the impact to the region's natural habitat, OG&E has declined to pursue the development of any wind energy on public land, officials said.
The wind that comes sweeping down Oklahoma's plains isn't powering nearly as many Edmond homes as it could be, officials say, even though signing up for the service is as easy as filling out a one-page online form. ...Since the inception of the wind power program in 2004, Edmond Electric has advertised it as a "pure and simple" option for customers, saying that using 100 kilowatt hours - enough to power 100 light bulbs for 100 hours - of wind energy per month for a year has the same environmental benefit as planting a third of an acre of trees or not driving a car for 1,800 miles. But Edmond residents don't seem to be buying into the idea. ...In the end, Edmond Electric plans to continue to offer wind power despite the low subscriber numbers. "Some of our customers have a real interest in an environmentally good power supply," Burgett said. "We'll continue to meet our customers' desires."
OG&E is no longer pursuing the idea of developing a wind farm on the Cooper Wildlife Management Area near Woodward. We heard from folks in that area and sportsmen and even OG&E employees who had concerns about it," said Brian Alford, spokesman for OG&E.