Library from Oklahoma
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.
An approaching storm frames wind turbines north of Woodward, Oklahoma.
A row of wind turbines in Harper County, Oklahoma. Depending on the model, each turbine can produce 1.5 to 2.1 megawatts of electricity when spinning at a speed for which the turbine was designed to deliver its maximum power (MW).
Newly constructed high-tension power lines frame a county road. The power lines deliver wind energy to load centers.
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.
This letter was sent to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in response to a wind energy development proposal slated for the Hal and Fern Cooper Wildlife Management Area (WMA).
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.
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 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"...
Southwest Power Pool (SPP) control area includes all of Kansas and Oklahoma and portions of Texas, Louisiana and other states (see: http://www.spp.org/section.asp?pageID=28). SPP does not overlap ERCOT, the grid operator which covers most of Texas.
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.
Westbound drivers along Intertstate 40 can't help but crane their necks at the site of dozens of wind generators that have gone up on both sides of the interstate in western Oklahoma.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Consumers who purchase wind turbines to provide electricity for their homes would get a tax break under a bill approved Tuesday by the Oklahoma Senate. Under the bill, consumers could get a 40 percent tax credit on the cost of a wind turbine. Critics said it was not economically feasible for most homeowners since the average cost of a wind turbine for home use is about $50,000. Some objected to the bill because it also gives the same tax credit to solar energy devices. Sen. Mike Johnson, R-Kingfisher, called the bill "irresponsible."
Oklahoma has long been known for its abundant reserves of oil and gas, but Norman-area lawmakers want to add wind power to the list of leading energy sources. Already, 420 towering wind turbines in western Oklahoma provide about 3 percent of the state's electricity, according to the Oklahoma Wind Power Initiative, a joint project of the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.
A new study could put 10 Texas counties in front of the pack to lure wind energy companies and related industries to them. The city of Childress, along with 10 counties and Harmon County in Oklahoma, have formed the Rolling Plains Rural Partnership and are applying for a $150,000 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Office. The yearlong study, if funding is approved, would place about nine or 10 anemometers around the partnership's area. The anemometers collect and record wind data for the entire year. The exact areas the towers will be located will be determined by a meteorologist and based on elevations and current and future transmission lines. What the group is banking on is the creation of the Panhandle Loop, an electrical transmission system being debated that would transmit electricity from West Texas to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas's grid, which provides electricity to a majority of Texas residents. The $1.5 billion loop is in the planning stages, but is awaiting the outcome of June hearings by the Public Utilities Commissions to approve wind energy areas in West Texas.