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Piedmont may see wind farms; Calumet happy with theirs

By Matt Montgomery
editor@piedmontnewsonline.com

While Apex Wind Energy is fighting to secure their new wind farm project in an area in between Piedmont and Okarche, the town of Calumet is feeling a boost in the economy of their town from the existing Canadian Hills Wind Farms, just north of Calumet.

Canadian Hills is a wind farm project hosted by the Virginia-based Apex Wind Energy that is still growing and already spans several miles across the landscape just north of the Calumet town line at Memorial Road.

Apex is in the process of solidifying a new wind farm project, Kingfisher Wind Farms that would touch the northwest section of Piedmont and span west towards Okarche. It is proposed to have about 150 wind energy turbines in the project.

Last week, Apex released an estimated tax revenue and infrastructure value by school district chart. The chart indicated the Kingfisher Wind Farm project would provide about $95,042,000 in infrastructure value to the Piedmont School District, and estimated the project would yield about $689,000 in local tax revenue to the Piedmont School District.

Canadian Hills Wind Farms is already showing a change in Calumet, according to the town’s mayor.

Calumet Mayor Mike Crowly said with change there is always going to be a little getting used to, but since Apex developed Canadian Hills in the Calumet area just several months ago, the local diners and gas stations in Calumet have seen a great increase in out-of-town customers.

“The Town of Calumet has experienced more daily traffic and more daily activity in our town, which leads to economic development which is always a good thing for us to have,” Crowly said. “Our stores and our restaurants in town have benefited from the wind farm experience which intern will lead to more sales tax for the town of Calumet.”

One of the local diners Monday afternoon was packed almost to capacity and the owner said that out of the maybe 30 people dining there, only one person lived in the town of Calumet, implying that the majority of their customers at lunch time are workers from out of town.

Both Crowly and the Calumet Police Department said they haven’t heard much of anything detrimental from the birth of Canadian Hills from the community members.

“The way it always is, when you have change and any type of construction, you are always going to have some situations that are different and people are not used to,” he said. “But I think Apex has been pretty good about handling any situations they can and handling any people’s issues.”

In fact, Crowly said the biggest issue he’s heard come from the Canadian Hills Wind Farm project is the change in the landscape, but added that projects like wind farms and gas drilling take some getting used to.

“If you look at the overall economic situation of the landowners in the area, if they receive the tower on them, then they are going to see some residual revenue that will come to town, that they will receive while that farm’s in operation,” he said. “I guess it’s a give and take, if you can accept the fact that there’s a little change in the scenery and maybe it works out for some people.”

He said the greatest amounts of complaints probably came from private landowners in the area who didn’t want to sign into Apex’s agreement.

The Kingfisher Wind Farm project that could impact both Okarche and Piedmont is still in the process of development and is awaiting a final decision between representatives of Apex and Piedmont.

4 Comments

  1. Nick says:

    The tax revenue mentioned above would amount to 1.3% of Apex’s claim to “infrastructure value” to the school district; 1.3%
    Why are we letting the business who is only hear for the millions upon millions of dollar$ they will receive from harvesting our wind corridor tell us how we’ll benefit from their business. Where are independent studies that should be done by non-interested 3rd parties? Of course they are going to play it up to sound better to a town that knows nothing of wind energy that is in a state that has no regulation, law, or ordinance to govern the installation of these industrial wind turbine energy complexes. Don’t be fooled.

    These are not “farms”. Farms are organized, beautiful, have crops in rows, benefit the people, and do not reduce or endanger the quality of life for the people around them. Here’s what you should know about these huge electrical grids (aka – wind farms) that are taking over our beautiful state and wanting to come up as close as 300 – 400 feet from your back door.

    (1) NOISE/ DECIBLE LEVELS. They are loud. No matter what they say to you or claim, they’re as loud as a combine running in the farmland a few hundred feet from your house. If you live out hear you know what I mean. You can hear a tractor plowing its field at night or baling hay.

    (2) HEALTH ISSUES/ INAUDIBLE NOISE. They make an almost inaudible low frequency noise that can cause health affects ranging from vertigo, dizziness, anxiety, depression, cause lack of sleep, and who knows what else. Actually, very little is known about long term affects because they’re pounding these into the ground without enough scientific studies to know what they will do to you or any other living creature around them.

    (3) FLICKER AFFECT/STROBING. Be ready to feel like you’re under a strobe light every morning and evening. When the sun gets behind them they will cast a long strob-ing shadow on your home, schools, business, etc… anywhere they are in or out of town.

    (4) LIGHT SCATTER. They are all going to be equipped with flashing lights at night. So not only will the beautiful landscape b ruined in the day, but your night time view will look like the towers over at The Links apartments on Hefner Rd on the east side of town, except it will be 100’s of time worse. Goodbye beautiful stars at night. So long to the arm of the Milky Way we see out here in Piedmont, Okarche, Calumet, and just all along the farm corridor in Canadian and Kingfisher Counties.

    (5) DISTANCE & LOCATION They are not going to be lined up in pretty rows like a true crop on a farm. Drive out to El Reno/Calumet and look at what Apex and Atlantic Power Corp have already installed. They’re put up at random, in scattered groups, and without care about how much they are destroying the prairie lands and farms they are on. Pray for the weather Oklahoma is known for because they’ve been set up in a way that a tornado path will only take them out in small clusters, if even that much. They’re not going to line them up and contain them in just a few sections because they care more about they turbines and the $$ they generate than our land, our beautiful farm corridor, the people who live here and are stuck living practically under them now, or anything else for that matter. It’s $$$ !!! They want to be able to put them 1.1 times the distance of the tower height from a structure. Imagine the tower laid on the ground and the distance from the base to the top is how close it can be from your home and family in it. If they are blown over in one of our storms or tornado outbreaks guess who’s going to know first? The families living under the shadow of one will.

    (6) DANGEROUS. So you’ve already read now that they can possibly harm you and your family due to low frequency sound waves and could fall on your home if a storm or tornado blows them over, but did you know they have a lot of oil in the generators/turbine engines (wasn’t it supposed to be “GREEN ENERGY”?). Videos on YouTube are out there showing out of control turbines that have had brake failures and spun so fast and furious that they explode in flames and throw heavy metal debris from the blades, motor, and tower anywhere from 1/2 mile to more than a mile around it. So you may not even be right under the shadow of one, but imagine if one out here did that and the debris came crashing through your property and injured your family and destroyed your home?? Is it worth taking that chance, even if it’s low? Right now there’s a 0% chance of that happening. That increases exponentially once they are here.

    (7) ECONOMICS. Let’s get to the bottom line here. Calumet – Ok, so a diner that has next to no one coming in all the time gets 30 or so out of state workers eating there now. That is not a permanent change in the economics of the town. The workers will be gone when the work is done by the end of the year. **NOTE – Take note of the comments in the news story above about where the workers are from… “OUT OF TOWN”!! Apex promised this would create JOBS IN OKLAHOMA. That means that lie has been exposed. Remember this Nov. 5th at the Piedmont Public Hearing about the decision on the turbines in town. Also, the turbines and Apex/Atlantic Power Corp will not benefit our town or state. The electricity has already been sold on futures contracts that are in place for 20 – 25 years with electric companies and they price per megawatt is fixed. That means it will not fluctuate based on increase or decrease in the supply of electricity created by the turbines. They turbines aren’t even active 100% of the time. Many just sit stationary and do nothing. The cities and counties the turbines are in WILL NOT RECEIVE ANY ELECTRICITY PRODUCED BYT THE TURBINES unless they purchase it from a local power company specifically, and who even knows how to do that. It’s been said that some citizens are under the incorrect belief that our town and their homes will be powered by the turbines and that it will be free energy. That is false and if you know of anyone that believes that please explain to them that it is simply not true. Apex’s representative, Kent, specifically told the town of Piedmont that Apex is a capitalist company that is here to make $$ and that is it, nothing else. Free does not factor in….ACTUALLY… per the OK Tax Commission (OTC), the wind turbine complexes (“farms”) cost the companies that own them next to nothing to operate once construction is complete, so to them there will be the element of free when it’s on the operational side of business, which also means net profit will be through the roof. And don’t forget the tax payer money they are applying for and will receive from Oklahoma and the Federal Government, as well as ad valorem tax from the state too (more tax payer money).

    (8) PROPERTY & PROPERTY VALUES. Are you ready to put your home on the market? Make sure you take off 38-45% of its current value if you have any hopes of selling. Turbines will decrease the value of your home and land. Just think about it for a moment. Would you have bought your home with a wind farm all around it and throughout the city and county around you? Or, think of it this way – would you buy a house right next to a power plant (coal, gas, hydro, etc…) or even better and more accurate – would you buy an apartment if it was inside a power plant? That’s what western Oklahoma is becoming and what these towns will be, including Piedmont. Homes, businesses, and farms all conveniently located INSIDE A POWER PLANT. You will be a fixture on a power grid now.

    There’s so much more to say and reasons why we should not allow these turbine farms here in Piedmont and should fight to get them stopped before they fill all of Canadian and Kingfisher County. Many of us can see for miles and miles out here. Citizens of Piedmont can see Devon tower and downtown OKC from our homes because it is so open and expansive out here.

    We didn’t move here for turbines. You didn’t stay here after the F5 tornado last May because you wanted to see the pretty and giant turbines grow all around your home. We didn’t ask for this fight to come to our door either.

    Please do something to help stop what Apex and Atlantic Power Corp. are trying to do to our home and state. Please hold your city counsel accountable to act on behalf of its citizens and not under the influence and control of the corporate energy giants.
    You’ve always had it in your mind that if you were ever faced with a challenge and forced into defending what’s right that you have the courage and strength to stand up and fight the fight to make things right.

    Do it now. Join your neighbors and community on November 5th and speak out against the turbines in our city and counties.

    Start calling the counsel member, city manager, mayor, and planning and zoning commission to tell them to say no to turbines and to stop the turbine ordinance Apex wrote for Piedmont to use. Then when you’ve called the city take it up to the next level and call our state government.

    Call Governor Fallin’s office. Call these OK government Representatives and Senators: David Dank, Rob Johnson, Senator Justice, John Enns, Mike Ming, and anyone else in our state government who will listen so they will know these turbine power plants need review, new legislation, and regulation before they fleece our land and state to harvest our natural resources for their gain.

    These need to be regulated and have site plans that do not take up 100’s of square miles of our land. Our state is full of smart people and we’re an example to the nation. Let’s not get taken over by out of state energy companies who are taking advantage of our lack of knowledge and planning in this new industry. It needs to be stopped until it can be done right and have siting requirements mandated by the state and other regulatory boards. This can’t be done unless you join with us. Start making those calls now. Be an active member at the public hearing on Nov. 5th. Call the news stations and get them out here. We can do this!

  2. Mr. Guy says:

    Nick based on your comment, I can tell you have a somewhat limited understanding of wind turbine generators. First off, allow me to clarify. Green energy means there is no harmful byproduct produced by the functions of these turbines. The generator oil is simply a lubricant/coolant that when changed, is sent off to be cleaned and reused in other equipment/machinery. Second, green energy = free energy? That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard. These machines cost nearly 2 million USD each for a base 2 MW model. Harmful or low/ high frequency noises? Your statement is very broad in relation to this subject. All turbines are different. I am a service technician at the wind farm in Calumet, OK. There are 2 models of turbines. REpower and Mitsubishi, both with their own operation and maintenance crews. I work on the REpower machines and I will tell you these machines are extremely quiet. 50 feet out, you will only hear the slight “swooshing” of the blade, which in all honesty, I think is awesome and somewhat soothing. In my opinion, these machines are beautiful, an awesome display of the ingenuity of mankind, and “green” (not free) alternative to energy production. Lastly, the likelihood of these turbines coming down is virtually non-existant. Yes it has happens before, but let me remind you, wind energy is a relatively young industry. These machines are redesigned to be safer and more eficient every day.

  3. Bill says:

    The only people who could have stopped this were the landowners back in 2003, 2004, 2005, etc. up until now. They could have stopped this only by not being willing to sign a lease. But they did not. And they will or already have just gone around those other people who said no. Who would be foolish enough to pass up 5 to 10K per year/per turbine escalating every few years for 40+ year contracts? They are not going to watch their neighbors get 2 or 3 or 5+ turbines on them and not partake.

    People who are against this must have not grown up farming or ranching and are probably not landowners. The low hanging fruit (best wind) has already been picked (built on or leased to build on in our state). The leases are already in place so good luck stopping any of this. Wind, just like oil and gas is a freight train that is steaming by as we speak. None of us are going to stop it. So relax…

    All energy is good for our state whether you like to see it or not. Every form of energy has major pros and cons. That is really the only FACT that we know.

  4. Richard Jones says:

    Addressing My Friends, Mr. Guy and Bill.

    Allow me to PLuck some low hanging Fruits.

    Mr. Guy – I am quite certain that skin artists who specialize in facial tattoos think they are “awesome…and beautiful” as well, but if someone came into the county trying to force them upon the rest of us, we would run him out of town on a rail. Just because the Wind Energy Industry promotes itself as “Green” does not necessarily make it so – at least that is what I was told by a few red-tailed hawks I know – and a Bald Eagle who once stopped by for a beer (seriously, it was really cool). It appears that Big Wind likes to play fast and loose with the truth, so you will kindly excuse me if I do not take their word for it.

    I appreciate your contribution to this conversation for the distinct fact that you specifically cite the value of these industrial wind turbines that “cost nearly 2 million USD each”. I find that rather odd, as during installation, the Apex website was boasting a cost of 3 million dollars each, with a total project value of $450 million for the Apex\Calument Industrial Wind Turbine Complex (“Canadian Hills” sounds so much more pleasant, but let’s quit pretending and just call it what it is, OK?).

    The $3Million\ $450 Million figure was trumpeted at in all of the local print media – I’m surprised you missed it. I’ll allow you a little slack and call it a flat 2 mil each. At 135 turbines in the project, that will only get you to $270 million (or nearly 270 million, if I weren’t being such a nice guy right now). I will assume that you are as you say, a wind energy service technician in Calumet, you have direct knowledge of the equipment that is used, are relatively proficient at your job, and thus, are only trying to convince us of something and not trying to sell us a pig in a poke – that’s Mr. Doughtery’s job.

    You strike me as an honest, hard-working Oklahoman, so I will take your word for it as opposed to some carpetbagger who only seems to be able to spout Apex estimates and projections. He is well aware that no one can hold him to account on an estimate or a projection – you know, smoke and mirrors on an Excel spreadsheet. You do not strike me as a slickster, and since you know more about the physical workings of giant industrial wind turbines that either Nick or I, I bow to your expertise on such things and the cost of them.

    Why do you suppose Apex would possibly want to lie to Canadian County residents by inflating the value of their project by at least 33% as you say they have?

    Let me save you an embarrassing call to your supervisor that will end with you being told to “Shut up, quit talking to the media, and get your ass back into the field”.

    In Oklahoma, it’s called the Ad Valorem Tax Reimbursement Fund, and the real money in the Wind Energy industry is not in selling the scant and unnecessary electricity turbines provide to an already well-supplied grid, it is in installing and selling those turbines, and the low interest loans, federal tax subsidies, and state tax exemptions that come along with them. It’s a scam, a racket, and although you don’t realize it, you are being played like the rest of us – you are just getting a paycheck right now. Apex likes to throw around big numbers to small town folks so they will be lulled into thinking that giant industrial wind turbines will somehow bring untold riches to their communities. I’ve heard that they actually emit fairy dust, and unicorns dance around their bases at midnight.

    Ad Valorem (property) tax on $450 million is considerably more that it is on $270 million. Apex wants the local communities to believe that all the little school children will benefit from their horizontal Ponzi scheme, and they use this leverage to promote their projects. Throw in a little “energy independence” lingo – although ALL of the sources used for commercially viable electrical generation (coal, natural gas, nuclear, and hydroelectric) in the United States are produced domestically – to stroke a hard-working Oklahoman’s patriotic spirit, and you can sell these towering eye-sores like hot cakes.

    Why do you suppose Apex would possibly want to lie to Canadian County residents about “energy independence” when we are not dependent on foreign countries for electricity? Never mind. Put down the phone and step away. Really, career-wise, you don’t want to go there.

    Where was I? Oh yes, The Ad Valorem Tax Reimbursement Fund. The Ad Valorem Tax Reimbursement Fund (AVTRF) isn’t really a reimbursement fund at all, as Apex will never pay a cent – the money is paid directly from the Oklahoma Tax Commission to the County – or would be if there were any funds left in it. That’s right, boys and girls – YOUR tax dollars at work, not Apex’s. See how this works?

    The AVTRF was established in 1985 to help Oklahoma climb out of the oil bust. Its function is to lure Large employers to the state with tax incentives for Creating Lots of Jobs. In return, the employer gets a five year exemption on Ad Valorem taxes. The problem is that since 2002, the fund has been running in the negative specifically because of Big Wind – at least according to Tony Mastin, who should know. He’s the Administrator of the Oklahoma Tax Commission and specifically delivered that very message to the House Appropriations and Budget Committee on September 22nd, 2011. The fun part of his report goes like this:

    “Claims have increased over the years, as the vitalizing legislation have been amended and as certain capital-intensive qualifying projects have been granted exemption – particularly electric generating facilities and wind energy assets”.
    – T. Mastin, Administrator, Oklahoma Tax Commission, 9/22/2011

    Add to that the fact that the Double Homestead Exemption for low income families is to be paid out of this fund – after wind energy gets their cut, that is. Yeah, that’s right, “I’ll take the Poor and Elderly for $500, Alex”. Remember, the fund has been running negative since 2002 specifically because of Big Wind. That doesn’t look Good.

    I think I said something earlier about job creation. Let’s revisit that for a minute. Mr. Guy – You are a “service technician at the Industrial Wind Turbine Complex in Calumet, OK”. I realize that you actually said “wind farm”, but that is no more a wind farm than a hydroelectric dam is a “water farm”, so let’s cut the PR crap and get serious.

    There are 135 turbines on the project. How many service technicians are there? I’m not talking about the itinerate contractors that hop from project to project setting them up and moving on – they don’t count as permanent jobs – I’m talking about actual, long term employees. 135? 100? 50? Let me see if Apex can help us out a bit.

    The Apex website said that there would be 15-18 permanent jobs created in Calumet. You’ve already helped us establish the fact that they like to fudge the numbers a bit, so let’s subtract 33% from the high end (because I am being nice again) and call it 12 FTEs. A quick search of CareerBuilder.com will show a staffing company named SOS that has an opening for a wind energy technician job in Calumet that pays $19-$22 per hour on a contract that will expire in April. Yes, its contract work, and that means “itinerate” but I thought I would cut you some more slack. As a former itinerate consultant myself (I’ve returned home to Piedmont and “gone native”), I know that I make much more than my “company man” counterparts, and the shorter the contract, the higher my billable rate. January to April is an awfully short contract, but I am a nice guy, so let’s split the difference and go with $20.50 per hour. My generosity apparently knows no bounds. $42.6K/yr on a job that only requires a high school education and a bit of VoTech is not bad money. Twelve workers making $42.6K per year on average, results in a gross payroll of just over $511.6K annually. Are you still with me?

    Now, around Calumet, Oklahoma, businesses are taxed at a 12% Ad Valorem Tax rate, and then the result is multiplied by the ‘mil’ of .08486 for business equipment located outside of the city limits. The formula goes like this:

    Value in field *12% Ad Valorem Tax Rate * .08486 (the mil) for rural Calumet.

    If we throw out the apparently inflated Apex sales pitch value of $450 million and go with your own accurate assessment of the property value ($270 Million) and the high end ($511.6K) on the annual payroll, $2.75 Million dollars per year for 12 blue collar jobs in a Quonset hut is one hell of lot of taxes for Apex to sidestep and then saddle the Oklahoma taxpayers with. That looks Really Bad. If you take the original Apex reported project value of $450 Million, it looks REALLY Really Bad. I won’t bring up the poor and elderly. I don’t think I have to at this point.

    Put on top of all of this, the low interest loans from the US Department of Energy (that you and I would never qualify for), the federal Production Tax Credit (subsidizing 66% of the costs of wind energy), and any other incentives at the federal or state level that I was just too lazy to look up, and pretty soon, you will begin to figure out where the real money in Wind Energy is.

    Put down your phone, cash your paycheck, and be thankful that the Oklahoma taxpayers have not figured out the scam – Yet.

    Look, I’ve had a good time. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to shed some light on the true motivation of those who are threatening us. I honor your commitment to your education – it is something no one will be able to take from you. I also realize that you are out there every day busting your ass (if the job descriptions that I read online are correct), and you are not our adversary. You are playing the hand you have been dealt, as we all are, and I cannot fault you for that. I just don’t think you understand the rules of the game these guys are playing. Live Well.

    Ah, Mr. Bill.
    I really have better things to do, but let’s go. I’ll make it quick and relatively painless.

    I grew up around cattle, and I am a land owner. Many of my friends and neighbors who are opposed to their homes being surrounded by 400’ Industrial Wind Turbines with the literal wingspan of a Boeing 747 are, and they are quite rational, I can assure you. Your “best wind has already been picked” argument simply proves my argument that it is all about money and not about energy at all. You made that too easy. Bring your ‘A’ game next time.

    If, after reading my version of “Gone With The Wind” in crayon above, you still wish to cling to your handily disproven postulate that “all energy is good for our state”, let me leave you with these two things:

    If your advice to me is that if I am about to be mugged (I cleaned that up out of respect for others), I should just relax and take it, you are the one who is foolish. You do not realize that you are conversing with guys whose Lives, Loved Ones, and largest investments are about to be surrounded by 400’ industrial wind turbines at close range which, best case scenario – will send our property values to the basement. Your flippant attitude is neither appropriate nor appreciated. People who think as you do are a big part of why these guys are so hard to stop. Roll over if you wish, but I’ll not, and neither will my friends.

    I have conversed with the Canadian County Commissioners, and two of the three of them (the other guy is without a clue) agree that Canadian County was a much friendlier place before Apex showed up. I think we all would. That, My Friend, is Negative Energy, and it is definitely not good for Oklahoma.
    Sluggo sends his regards.

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