Wind Power Executive Details Benefits to Oklahoma Consumers, Farmers and Ranchers

November 24th, 2002  |  Published in Press Releases

Wind Power Executive Details Benefits to Oklahoma Consumers, Farmers and Ranchers

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – September 24, 2002 – Wind power is a clean and renewable resource that can have substantial benefits to Oklahoma consumers, farmers, and ranchers as well as to the environment. This was the message delivered today by Walt Hornaday, president of Cielo Wind Power, the largest developer of wind power in the southwest. His comments were made in a public comment session of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission in Oklahoma City as part of a rate case involving a wind energy project for OG&E (Oklahoma Gas and Electric).

“Wind power’s growing popularity with the public can be an advantage for power companies that invest in this technology. Municipal utilities, large industrial consumers, and even residential consumers in some locations soon may be able to express a preference for clean power by participating in a green power program, such as the one proposed by OG&E,” said Hornaday.

“Opinion polls across the country rank wind as one of the most popular energy resources, far ahead of fossil fuels and nuclear power. The reason is simple: it produces no pollution or hazardous wastes. This is a very real benefit because we’ve all seen that air pollution can have a serious effect on our health, the economy and our sense of well-being.” Hornaday said.

Hornaday testified that wind power has numerous benefits including:

1. Wind farms can revitalize the economy of rural communities, providing steady income through lease or royalty payments to farmers and other landowners. Although leasing arrangements can vary widely, a reasonable estimate for income to a landowner from a single utility-scale turbine is about $2,000 a year. Farmers can grow crops or raise cattle next to the towers. In Texas and New Mexico, for example, farmers are welcoming payments from this new clean energy source as they replace declining payments from oil and gas wells that are nearing depletion.

2. Direct economic benefits are obtained from wind energy development through the payment of property taxes on improvements made to the property. California wind companies pay annual property taxes to local governments of $10 million to $13 million. In San Gorgonio Pass, the city of Palm Springs actually extended its boundaries to an unincorporated area developed for wind energy to take advantage of the tax revenues. In the state of Washington, property taxes for proposed wind projects are estimated at approximately $10 to $14 per $1,000 investment.

3. Wind energy projects create jobs. In general, employment opportunities associated with a wind power plant are in construction, operations and maintenance, and manufacturing. Compared to conventional generation options, wind development creates more jobs per dollar invested and per kilowatt hour (KwH) generated than other generation technologies.

4. Much of the appeal of wind energy is that it has minimal environmental impact. Wind power has no air emissions. A one-megawatt wind turbine will annually displace emissions of 1,600 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2), nine tons of sodium dioxide (SO2), and four tons of nitrous oxide, thus reducing smog, greenhouse gases and acid rain.

5. A lesser-known benefit, but probably even more important to Oklahomans, is the fact that wind energy requires no water, unlike conventional power sources. Southwestern Public Services Company estimated that each house that is powered entirely through wind energy, saves the same amount of water as if they left their shower running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. “By not using water in electricity production, we can help conserve this precious resource for Oklahoma’s farmers, ranchers and growing cities” Hornaday said.

6. Wind power is non-obtrusive. Wind farms require only five percent or less of total land for turbines and access roads. This allows the other 95 percent to continue to be used for ranching or farming while the wind farm is in operation.

7. Wind power is a continuous, non-interruptible source of energy and isn’t susceptible to supply interruption from external political turmoil. Hornaday pointed out that purchasing electricity generated by renewable energy resources can provide a financial hedge against unstable or rising fossil fuel prices. We have seen several occasions in the past 20 years when wars or economic booms have caused fuel prices to change sharply, making it difficult for businesses to predict or control operating costs. Wind energy is not subject to fuel costs at all.

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