Articles from Oklahoma
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.
Whooping cranes, one of the world's rarest birds, have waged a valiant battle against extinction. But federal officials warn of a new potential threat to the endangered whoopers: wind farms. Down to as few as 16 in 1941, the gargantuan birds that migrate 2,400 miles each fall from Canada to Texas, thanks to conservation efforts, now number about 266. But because wind energy, one of the fastest growing sources of renewable energy, has gained such traction, whooping cranes could again be at risk - from either crashing into the towering wind turbines and transmission lines or because of habitat lost to the wind farms. "Basically you can overlay the strongest, best areas for wind turbine development with the whooping crane migration corridor," said Tom Stehn, whooping crane coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
For two years, I leased private hunting land northeast of Woodward where wind turbines were built. It was a nightmare. The land the turbines were on wasn't even huntable. The turbines had to be serviced, sometimes 24 hours a day. It seems like they were broke down or repaired constantly. Work trucks were in and out of our lease 24/7. The dirt roads became over-used and were badly rutted out. They even had to hire security officers to protect the turbines, which caused even more traffic.
The Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. wants to lease or buy from the state Department of Wildlife Conservation a portion of the Cooper Wildlife Management Area in northwest Oklahoma for its power-generating wind turbines. It's curious that state wildlife commissioners would consider such a proposal when state wildlife officials have been clamoring that more public hunting land is needed in Oklahoma. ...At issue for state wildlife commissioners is to what extent would numerous wind turbines disturb wildlife on Cooper? And what kind of policy would they be creating if they choose to lease Cooper for a wind farm? No doubt, other WMAs in western Oklahoma such as Beaver, Sandy Sanders and Packsaddle will be targeted for wind energy as well. Sue Selman of Buffalo, president of Save The Prairie and an owner of the historic Selman Ranch north of Woodward, is against any wind turbines on Cooper. ..."Placing wind turbines on the Cooper Wildlife Management Area will fragment and destroy a large quantity of (wildlife) habitat," she said. "It's a gross injustice to our part of the state, to wildlife and to hunting."
There's an energy boom going on in the "oil patch" region of Oklahoma and Texas the likes of which has not been seen in decades. This time around, though, the prize isn't under our feet, it's in the swirling currents above our heads. A rapidly growing number of domestic and international energy companies have targeted western Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle with plans for massive wind farm projects. Nowhere is this more evident than on the sage-covered prairies of northwestern Oklahoma. Hundreds of wind turbines stretch like a giant picket fence across the landscape, towering above the game-rich high plains. At first glance it would seem to be a win-win for both the environment and society ...When it comes to energy production, however, you never get something for nothing. Case in point: as a result of this boom, one of the nation's top public land bobwhite quail hunting destinations may soon be covered with a network of roads, high-tension power lines, and wind turbines.
Energy experts will produce a final report on Oklahoma's future in wind power by April, at no cost to the state. The results of the study could be used to draw wind energy wildcatter companies to Oklahoma, the so-called "Saudi Arabia of Wind." Kansas had paid $50,000 for a similar study, but regional transmission organization Southwest Power Pool has agreed to provide the information to Oklahoma for free as part of its efforts to map out wind power transmission for the entire region. As part of a 10-year, $1.4 billion transmission expansion plan for the region, SPP is working on a project known as the X Plan, which will build wind generation capacity throughout the Central and South Plains area in the shape of an "x," taking in much of Oklahoma's northwestern panhandle.
Plans to quadruple OG&E's wind power production and start a trasmission line project to make renewable power available to Oklahoma's population centers were announced Tuesday by OG&E Energy Corp. Chairman, President and CEO Pete Delaney. ...Alford stressed that wind energy cannot replace coal-fire and natural gas power generation. He said that typically wind power was only available 40 percent of the time. Wind also tends to blow less in high temperatures and cannot serve to provide base-load or 24-hour power production. "You have to have traditional fossil fuel generation," Alford said.
For $50,000, Oklahoma can get the same kind of comprehensive study Kansas got from Southwest Power Pool on the state's wind power resource. The plan could be finished by spring 2008 and would provide the guidance state leaders need to form a plan for new electricity generation and transmission upgrades. ...Bary K. Warren, director of transmission policy and compliance for the Empire District Electric Co. in Joplin, Mo., cautioned the group to keep projections for future wind generation development modest. Companies may put out press releases indicating their intent to build future capacity, but unforeseen developments may significantly limit the amount of wind generation that actually gets built, he said.
"The significant amount of wind in western Oklahoma is a largely untapped resource that is in increasing demand in Oklahoma and across the nation," Delaney said in a statement. "We have been working on plans for some time now to significantly increase OG&E's wind power production over the next four years." ...Greene said concerns raised in other states about the aesthetics of the giant wind turbines or the environmental impact on migratory birds are minimal in western Oklahoma, where communities with vast expanses of land are desperate for economic development. "It's interesting that there hasn't been a lot of negatives about wind in Oklahoma"...
OGE Energy Corp is prepared to build a new high-voltage transmission line to accelerate development of wind generation in Oklahoma, the utility company chief executive said on Tuesday. Oklahoma City-based OG&E Electric Services said new transmission is needed to unlock the potential for power to flow from future wind farms in the western part of the state to populated cities in the east. Chief Executive Officer Pete Delaney said OG&E, Oklahoma's largest electric utility, plans to significantly increase its wind production from 170 megawatts to 770 MW over the next five years to meet increased customer demand for renewable power.
The Oklahoma panhandle has plenty of wind power-generating capacity, and more capacity is scheduled for the near future. Now if there was only a way to get all that power onto the electricity grid. Members of the Oklahoma Electric Power Transmission Task Force on July 9 discussed the pressing need for improvements to the state's transmission infrastructure, particularly near Oklahoma's "wind farms." The problem is finding a company willing to invest in a project that may or may not yield a sizable return......Even if SPP agrees that the expenditures for new transmission for wind power in the area can be classified as improvements made for the sake of reliability, due to the unpredictability of wind power generation, the organization will give only a 10-percent accreditation for wind power. Warren said there have been days when the wind just doesn't blow. "Sometimes we got zero megawatts out of a 150-megawatt wind farm," he said, adding that his company couples wind power with more reliable generation sources. The situation puts investors at high risk, said Lepard. "You can get back 10 percent, but you have to build a line capable of handling the whole thing," said Lepard.