by Gus Blackwell, Rep.-61

Speaker Pro-Tempore 

This week, I met with representatives from OG&E to get an update on the wind energy situation. They also met with Guymon officials to answer questions that they may have on the developing scenario. It was a great meeting that answered many questions.

OG&E has made a commitment to build the needed transmissions lines from Oklahoma City to Texas County. They are building a 345 Kilo Volt line from Oklahoma City to Woodward, which is a type of structure that is fairly common in their power grid. However, they have little experience with the 765 KV line from Woodward to Guymon.

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That is why they have combined with two other companies that have expertise in that area to build that line. One partner is American Electric Power, which is the parent company of PSO in Oklahoma. They operate in eleven states throughout the region and have considerable expertise in this area. The other partner is Mid America which is a company formed by Warren Buffet that provides tremendous financial backing.

Currently, they are working out the details of the exact route of the line from Oklahoma City to Woodward. Presently, they are using a firm that has expertise in this area and are looking at three factors in the selection process. These are the social, engineering, and environmental impact as the factors for the project design.

The social factors include various aspects in deciding the route of the line. This includes minimizing exiting home impact and residential proximity to the line. There are also several agricultural factors such as center pivot irrigation, irrigated cropland, pasture and grasslands that are within the right of way.

Some of the environmental factors include the presence of wetlands or woodlands, streams crossed, and species habitat crossed. They will also include consideration of historic and archaeological sites.

Engineering factors include the total length of the line, as well as oil and gas wells in the vicinity. It is also better if the change in the angle of the line does not exceed 30 degrees. Road crossings are also avoided as much as possible.

There has been some controversy in Piedmont about the 345KV line going from OKC to Woodward. Using these criteria, OG&E has been able to minimize the impact of the line to only about five residences. However, there are some who are reluctant to compromise in this area and don’t want the line built. There are some developers who are trying to delay the project as well as those raising unsubstantiated health concerns.

Delays in this line will also mean delays in getting the line to Guymon. It is better for the lines to be built as rapidly as possible. Delay means loss of revenue and economic opportunity for the panhandle area.

The amount of ad valorem for our area is substantial. If only half of the project wind generators are built, the economic value will be over five billion dollars. That is substantial help for our schools and county government.

It is too bad that a few people stand in the way of much needed development for the state and the panhandle area. OG&E will continue to meet with landowners and mitigate as much as possible the negative impact to our area. However, progress does require some change.

 

 

 

 

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