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With construction on a massive wind farm scheduled to begin in Osage County in less than a month, a federal judge has scheduled a hearing for Wednesday in the lawsuit the Osage Nation filed in an effort to stop the construction.
The Osage Nation is concerned that 94 wind turbines and their network of electrical lines and roads would interfere with oil production and harm the delicate ecosystem of the tallgrass prairie. The complaint says each of the turbines would require extensive digging to create deep pits containing concrete foundations similar to those required in the construction of tall buildings.
Word, Eagle Claw president, said sluggish economic conditions and Washington gridlock contributed to private investors' hesitation to fund the alternative-energy project. The political fallout from the federal investigation of Solyndra, a California company that makes solar panels, didn't help either.
"The Osage Nation will not wait until the damage is done to the tallgrass prairie by this industrial wind project to take legal action," White said. "The Osage Minerals Council has a legal team in place and preparation is nearly complete to file against the proper parties in this matter.
Osage Nation and local ranchers say they don't oppose green energy. But building wind farms in the county will do more harm than good. The sprawling land of Osage County is home to oil fields and cattle ranches. Old industries are being threatened by new technology. Wind Capital Group wants to put up nearly 100 wind turbines.
Proposed wind farm development in Osage County may interfere with the Osage Nation's mineral estate, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. ..."Thus, the mineral estate cannot be denied reasonable access to the surface, and may, indeed, use so much of the surface estate as may be necessary to develop and produce the minerals."
Wind Capital plans to start building within a few months and has signed a deal to buy the turbines from General Electric. The turbines will stand mostly north of U.S. 60, a highway that is federally designated a scenic byway, but a few will flank the road to the south. ...The Osage Nation is powerfully opposed to the wind farm and vowed to stop it.
It is my opinion that the proposed projects will have an adverse impact upon the overall ecosystem of the Tallgrass Prairie, a true national treasure. The last remnants of the Tallgrass Prairie run from Osage County northward, into northern Kansas and I believe that the Osage Nation must join others in its protection, restoration, and properly make use of the limited opportunities.
"The Southern Great Plains Property Rights Coalition supports any legislation which will help landowners protect their property now and for future generations," the group said Friday. "We feel this is a step in the right direction.
Two audience members brought up concerns involving Altus Air Force Base. Eyerly freely admitted that AAFB would prefer that Wind Works "relocate the project 30 miles away." ...The easiest way to do so, he thought, would be to build another radar tower on the other side of the base at the wind company's expense.
Wind turbines are large, industrial machines, some reaching 300 feet in diameter. And the turbines don't come by themselves - the developments will include access roads, transmission lines and transformer stations. It may not be the worst kind of industrialization, but wind farms still amount to industrialization, says Don Wolfe, a researcher at the Sutton Avian Research Center in Bartlesville.
The Chisholm View Wind Project, located in the Hunter and Kremlin area, covers 40,000 acres of leased land. TradeWind Energy, a company out of Lenexa, Kan., which has leased that land, may someday soon build wind turbines there to generate electricity.
Stocking is one of about 200 people on the e-mail list for the newly formed Southern Great Plains Property Rights Coalition, a group of landowners fighting for fair compensation as wind development changes the landscape.
He currently is involved in a lawsuit with OG&E, after a court-appointed land appraiser said Stocking should be paid $10,000 an acre for the strip of land the utility company took. According to Stocking, OG&E wants to pay him $2,000 an acre for the strip of land, and the case is apparently going to a jury trial because OG&E is contesting the appraiser's figure. No date has been set for the trial.
Wind-based energy could soon become a reality for Garfield County, but a potential moratorium on tax incentives for wind energy companies could impede the county's progress in that endeavor. If the bill is signed into law, it could mean a stop on certain tax credits, including the Production Tax Credit.
Hundreds of miles of transmission line proposed Tuesday will ease the flow of cheap power in and out of the city's main source of energy. Lubbock customers will pay an unknown share of the $1.4 billion in projects directors of the Southwest Power Pool proposed stretching through Oklahoma and Kansas. ...But the real target are the huge markets along each coast, he said.
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.
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.
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.