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wind energy

Frank Robson, a wind farm opponent and property developer from Claremore, Okla., at an Oct. 21 Senate hearing on tax incentives for the wind industry.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Members of the state Senate Finance Committee heard testimony on Tuesday from the wind industry and a representative of a group of property owners pushing for stricter regulation of wind farms.

The Senate study centered on the cost-benefit of tax credits and incentives used by the wind industry. Supporters said Oklahoma’s incentives attract projects that might otherwise be built in other states with similar wind potential, including sites in Kansas, Nebraska and Texas.

Monte Tucker, left, stands with his son and dad on the family's farm near Sweetwater, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

In the ongoing debate about Oklahoma’s wind industry and whether it needs stricter regulation, two types of property owners have been the most vocal: those who hate the idea of turbines next door, and those eager to lease land to a wind company.

But there’s a voice that’s been largely absent from the discussion so far: Landowners who have wind farms and like them.

Family, Factory

A wind farm outside of Woodward in northwestern Oklahoma.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Utility crews have finished a second 345-kilovolt transmission line between the Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma to provide more export capacity for wind-generated power.

Xcel Energy in Amarillo on Monday announced completion of the estimated 200-mile line from near Abernathy, Texas, to Woodward, Oklahoma. It's part of a $64 million partnership with Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company.

Xcel Energy says the Texas stretch was energized last week when a connection was made to the Oklahoma segment completed by OG&E.

Windmills near Weatherford, Okla.
Wesley Fryer / Flickr Creative Commons

Seven landowners filed a class-action lawsuit this week to prevent wind turbines from being built near their homes in Canadian and Kingfisher counties.

In the complaint, which is embedded above, the landowners claim that planned wind farm projects controlled by Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy would create a nuisance, devalue their property and adversely affect their health.

Oklahoma is the nation's fourth-largest generator of wind energy. But wind developers in the northeast corner of the state, where the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve lies, are up against stiff opposition from an unlikely pair of allies: environmentalists and oil interests.

Bob Hamilton, director of the Nature Conservancy's Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, has been fighting to block construction of a 68-turbine wind farm.

Bob Hamilton, director of the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve near Pawhuska, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma is moving up the national ranks in wind-generated electricity. But as wind farms expand into northeastern Oklahoma, developers are facing a team of unlikely allies: oil interests and environmentalists.

Wind farm developers encounter opposition wherever projects are planned, but the debate in Oklahoma is perhaps most magnified in Osage County, where there’s a confluence of money, government and prairie politics.

Voters want to see the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which currently oversees all other electrical generating facilities in the state except for electricity created by wind, to regulate wind energy as well, with 72.4 percent in support.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission Chairman Bob Anthony
Oklahoma Corporation Commission

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission plans to seek the public's input in the placement of wind farms and the regulation of rooftop solar panels.

The commission's public utility division held the second of two meetings last Friday that lay the groundwork for issuing a notice of inquiry on wind and solar issues.

AMK713 / Flickr Creative Commons

A federal production tax credit on renewable energy production keeps expiring and getting renewed by Congress, creating a lot of uncertainty in the wind energy industry. Still, by the end of 2013, there were two new wind projects under construction in Oklahoma, and the national trend was toward wind.

A wind turbine near Calumet, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Solar panel and wind turbine technology is improving rapidly, and many small-scale customers are excited by the potential to generate electricity and sell it — outright, or for credit — back to the grid.

A wind turbine near Calumet, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A study commissioned by The Wind Coalition says developers have invested more than $6 billion in Oklahoma's wind energy industry.

The study released Wednesday says there are 26 active wind farms in the state. Oklahoma ranks sixth in the nation in the amount of wind energy generated for consumers. That's enough to power almost 770,000 homes each year.

Joe Bush, owner of a ranch near Shidler, Okla., has signed agreements to lease land for two wind farms. Bush worries a 2014 bill that would impose a moratorium on some wind-energy projects would prevent the wind farms from being built.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma is one of the country’s top wind-energy producers, and companies want to build more turbines across the state.

For many landowners, wind farms can be a financial windfall. But as wind energy moves into regions unaccustomed to turbines, opponents have taken the fight to the state Capitol.

A wind farm outside of Woodward in northwestern Oklahoma.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Western Oklahoma is on the forefront of U.S. wind energy development, and has been for more than a decade. But as wind farm projects creep east, they’re meeting more resistance from landowners and increased involvement from the state legislature.

Windmills near Weatherford, Okla.
Wesley Fryer / Flickr Creative Commons

The looming Dec. 31 expiration of the federal production tax credit for renewable energy helped drive a last-minute rush to start construction on wind energy projects around the country and in Oklahoma.

Developers had to start construction by 2013 to qualify, The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports, “but the wind industry fears another bust if the credit isn’t renewed.”

A wind turbine near Calumet, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Plans are underway for a new wind farm in Garfield County.

The Enid News & Eagle reports that TradeWind Energy has filed a permit to build 29 turbines at a wind farm in Breckinridge. A spokeswoman for the company says the wind farm will generate 98.8 megawatts, or enough power for 40,000 Oklahoma homes.

TradeWind also handled the land and permit acquisition for another wind farm near Hunter that opened in September.

In a settlement reached with the Department of Justice, Duke Energy Renewables pleaded guilty in the deaths of 14 golden eagles and 149 other migratory birds at two of its wind energy facilities in Wyoming.

Study: Taller Wind Turbines Kill More Birds

Nov 22, 2013

The Journal Record reports on the difficulty in getting good numbers on bird kills cause by wind turbines.

OakleyOriginals / Flickr.com

State regulators have approved a utility's plan to establish wind-energy facilities across three states in a push to produce additional power but at a more affordable cost.

Xcel Energy announced Friday that the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission OK'd Xcel's plan to purchase 698 megawatts of wind energy for the Texas and New Mexico power system.

The plan was announced in July but needed approval by the New Mexico commission. The company was not required to seek approval in Texas.

Gabriel Pollard / Flickr Creative Commons

The Tennessee Valley Authority on Thursday announced is would retire six coal-fired power plants in Alabama and replace two in Kentucky with a new natural gas plant.

TVA CEO Bill Johnson cited stricter environmental regulations and a “flat demand” for electricity, NPR’s Scott Neuman reports.

Oklahoma Educational Television Authority / YouTube

StateImpact reporter Joe Wertz was a guest on OETA’s Oklahoma News Report last week to discuss his report on how wind farms interfere with weather radar.

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