A group has organized and is getting its own wind under its sails to oppose construction of large commercial wind farms near developed areas in the area.
Although large wind turbines for wind farm projects inside Piedmont city limits have been disallowed by the city, major wind projects are underway or being proposed just outside Piedmont and Okarche city limits and near other nearby communities.
Among those opposing these projects is a new group called Oklahomans For Responsible Wind Energy (OFRWE).
Simply put, the group says it does not oppose wind energy, but does not want to see large commercial wind projects going up in the county near developed areas or areas ripe for development.
“The growth sector in Canadian County is on the east side of the county and these big projects will hurt that growth,” said OFRWE spokesperson Pam Suttles of Piedmont.
“We would like to see no wind farm east of Highway 81,” Suttles explained.
Apex Energy has already constructed a Canadian County wind farm which spans from just north of Calumet and continues north for several miles to just past Waterloo Road.
Around 135 wind turbines comprise that project.
Apex is now working to get its next project started in Kingfisher County, just northwest of the Piedmont city limits.
It will span east and northeast to near the northeast edge of Okarche.
Some 120 wind turbines are planned for this project on 15,000 acres.
Initially, 16 turbines for this project were planned on property inside the Piedmont city limits.
However, city officials later nixed the turbines inside the city, but Piedmont, like other affected cities and towns, has no control on turbines located outside the respective boundaries of those communities.
Several landowners slated to have a turbine placed on their land inside the Piedmont city limits are asking to be de-annexed out of the city limits now that the city has said no to large wind turbines inside Piedmont.
Apex is reportedly now planning another project in the county just south of Piedmont from Wilshire north to the Northwest Expressway.
One source said it will be bounded on the West by Richland Road and S.H. 81 on the eastern side.
Apex indicates it is looking at a project in that area, but Apex Development Manager Kent Dougherty said at the time he was contacted for this news story he was not sure of what north-south section line roads represented the west-east boundary.
A land owner with property in the western portion of the reported area said he has already leased land to Apex for this project.
“There is a lot of development, especially on the east side of that project and their views will now be of 400-foot tall turbines,” Suttles said.
Suttles said her group believes there are health and safety issues that accompany the wind projects, and there are no health and safety regulations at the state or county level to ensure the health and safety of those residing near the large turbines.
She also said her research shows that property values tumble on property near these projects.
Suttles also said she does not believe that the projects provide much long-term economic value for the area in which they are located.
“School districts will see some benefit, although I question the amounts Apex says our local schools will get from these projects,” Suttles said.
“Other than maybe some increase in local sales tax revenues while construction is going on, the cities and towns will get nothing once the turbines are built,” she argues.
She also maintains that whatever increase in revenue the wind farms might provide the schools, that gain could be offset by lower overall tax revenue because of decreased property values she believes the wind farms will cause.
Canadian County Commissioners are now looking at the possibility of creating a County Planning Commission to oversee zoning and other development regulations in unincorporated areas of the county, including possible regulations for wind turbine placement in those areas.
A county-wide election would need to be called to enact county zoning regulations in Canadian County.
Suttles said as word spreads about the wind farms, interest in her group expands.
“At the start, it was mostly people from Piedmont and some from Okarche, but now we have started getting a lot of people from in and around Yukon,” Suttles said.