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wind energy

The Chisholm View wind farm near Hunter, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

On the latest Business Intelligence Report, Journal Record editor Russell Ray discusses what happens when wind turbines reach the end of their lifespan and the potential economic and environmental challenges associated with decommissioning them.

Oklahoma Energy Project To Be Largest Of Its Kind In U.S.

Jul 31, 2019
A wind farm in Ellis County in western Oklahoma.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Western Farmers Electric Cooperative has entered into an agreement with NextEra Energy Resources to build the largest combined wind, solar and energy storage project in the country. Journal Record editor Russell Ray discusses how this project could impact Oklahoma and potential challenges these companies could face.

An aerial view of the Blue Canyon Wind Farm in southwestern Oklahoma.
Google Earth

Oklahoma ranks No. 2 in the nation for installed wind power capacity, according to a report from the American Wind Energy Association.

This electricity — enough, the association estimates, to power the equivalent of 2.3 million homes — is generated by 3,736 wind turbines operating in Oklahoma, a public dataset compiled by the U.S. Geological Survey, AWEA and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory show.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Dewey County Courthouse is one of the newest in Oklahoma. The offices are spacious, and the courtroom has fresh carpet and shiny wood trim. County Commissioner M.W. “Junior” Salisbury is excited to play tour leader.

“I’m pretty proud of our little courthouse here,” he says. “I really, really am.”

Officials figured they would need 25 years to pay it off, but it took less than five. One major reason: wind farms.

Calumet Public Schools Superintendent Keith Weldon stands in an old garage that he now uses for an agriculture program. Weldon worries if lawmakers take some of his local funding, he would have to scale back the popular program.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The wind blows strong and steady in Calumet, a small town about 40 miles west of Oklahoma City.

It’s the wind that’s prompted companies to build turbines here. A natural gas company also built a plant nearby.

Trainees in the control tower at Altus Air Force Base watch as a C-17 cargo plane taxis to the runway.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Developers recently announced plans to build the country’s largest wind farm in Oklahoma’s Panhandle. The industry is growing and turbine projects are expanding across the state. But wind energy developers are facing a new headwind: military air bases.

Bob Kerr on his ranch near Carnegie, Okla., which is flanked by turbines from the Blue Canyon Wind Farm.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

 

One major tax incentive for wind energy remains on the books in Oklahoma. And the Legislature is poised to end it — more than three years early. The politics of renewable energy have changed as state revenues have failed, but some wind producers say lawmakers are reneging on a deal that sends a bad message to any industry considering investing in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma’s wind industry has grown year after year. With 3,400 turbines spread across 41 wind farm projects, the state ranks No. 3 in the nation in the American Wind Energy Association’s report on wind power capacity.

The country’s fastest growing occupation is wind turbine technician, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — with numbers expected to more than double over the next decade.

So what does a wind turbine job entail? Where can you get training? And will the field continue to grow under the Trump administration?

NextEra Renewable Energy Resources' wind farm near Elk City, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

An organization opposed to wind power incentives says payouts could total $5.2 billion by 2030 if Oklahoma’s zero-emissions tax credit continues, “an amount the wind industry said is highly inflated,” The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports:

Wind turbines at dusk
Samir Luther / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Oklahoma remained No. 4 in the U.S. in installed wind power capacity during the second quarter of 2016, but a national industry group expects the state to move up the ranks by the end of the year.

No new wind farms have been completed in recent months, according to a report from the American Wind Energy Association, but more than 1,100 megawatts are currently under construction, The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports:

A wind farm near Woodwoard and Harper Counties in northwestern Oklahoma.
Becky McCray / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association might push Oklahoma legislators to extend some of the rights afforded oil and natural gas properties to alternative forms of energy like wind and solar, the Journal Record’Brian Brus reports:

The Blue Canyon Wind Farm near Carnegie, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Southwestern Oklahoma is in the middle of an airport boom, but the new airstrips weren’t planned to attract travel — they’re designed to repel wind farms.

Rural landowners worried about ruined prairie views and diminished property values are registering private airstrips to block construction of wind farms, The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports.

NextEra Renewable Energy Resources' wind farm near Elk City, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A $1.3 billion budget hole and state funding crisis fueled by low crude prices has polarized a debate on the state’s financial support of wind-generated electricity.

The Chisholm View wind farm near Hunter, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The nonprofit Oklahoma Public School Resource Center recently released a data survey on how the wind industry funds school districts.

The report shows there is a sizeable bump in property tax revenue when a wind farm is built. However, the state aid formula fluctuates when a district gets high revenue from other sources, The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt reports:

As Coal Falters, Wind Energy Is Soaring

Apr 14, 2016

Coal giant Peabody Energy’s bankruptcy filing yesterday comes as the coal industry continues its downward spiral. Blame new tough environmental regulations, cheap gas and low commodity prices for coal’s demise.

On the other hand, wind energy is booming. According to a new report by the American Wind Energy Association, more wind power was added last year than any other electricity source in the U.S., beating out natural gas and solar.

Panhandle residents pouring over maps showing possible routes for the Plains and Eastern Clean Line Project, which, if approved, would funnel wind power from Oklahoma to the southeastern U.S. power grid.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The U.S. Department of Energy on March 28 cleared the way for construction of a 700-mile transmission line project designed to carry Oklahoma wind power to the southeastern U.S. electricity grid.

The $2.5 billion Plains and Eastern Clean Line is different than the typical AC power lines that crisscross the U.S. It’s a high-voltage direct-current line, which is more expensive to build but loses less electricity over long distances.

Continental Resources founder and CEO Harold Hamm, second to the left, at the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association's office in Oklahoma City.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma legislators are considering eliminating some tax credits and incentives for businesses to help plug a $1.3 billion budget gap. The state’s fiscal crisis has led some oil and gas leaders to push lawmakers to end incentives for the wind industry.

INCENTIVE AGREEMENT

The Chisholm View wind farm near Hunter, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin signed a bill in May 2015 ending a program that afforded many wind developers a five-year exemption on property taxes. The measure, Senate Bill 498, authored by Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, was projected to save the state $500 million over 10 years by sunsetting an ad valorem exemption on Jan. 1 2017.

Lawmakers gather in the House chamber at the state Capitol before Gov. Mary Fallin delivers her 2016 State of the State address.
Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

Four stories that were trending or generated discussion online or on KGOU’s social media platforms during the past week.

wind turbine
Tamsin Slater / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, wants to end a federal tax subsidy for the production of electricity through wind power. The freshman Republican introduced legislation that would not allow any more companies to qualify for the tax credit after 2019.

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