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Property owners blown away by easements talk

Northwest Oklahoma landowners’ concerns about their rights regarding electric company easements to build new transmission lines for wind power illustrates an issue that likely will draw more debate in the future.

Wind energy is a hot topic right now, and more private companies and government officials are showing an increased interest in building wind farms to produce electrical power.

Wind energy is considered “green,” or environmentally friendly, which is popular with the general public in this time of rising energy prices.

While most people are for developing this kind of green energy, landowners who are being told the transmission lines will cut across their land or run near their homes suddenly aren’t so enthusiastic.

In Kingfisher this week, residents expressed concerns about their rights as far as easements go and also are worried about any negative health consequences of the transmissions lines being nearby. Kingfisher officials say the lines will scrap a plan to build a city airport. Piedmont officials say the route of the lines divides their city.

We expect this kind of community concern to be played out all across the country as more and more wind farms are developed.

Just this week, billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens testified before Congress the government should begin building “wind corridors” for transmissions lines for wind-generated power or provide the right of way on private land and extend tax credits so the private sector can build these lines.

With this kind of focus Pickens brings – plus the popular appeal overall of green energy – it won’t just be people in northwest Oklahoma affected by these lines, it will be landowners all across the United States. Burying the lines is a possibility, but could be cost prohibitive to ratepayers.

It appears to us there is a lot of work to do to identify these corridors and work with landowners in a way that is least disruptive to private property interests.

The Enid News and Eagle

24 July 2008