The Wind Works team was in Altus last night to present their second landowners’ meeting at Southwest Technology Center. President and CEO David Eyerly gave the audience of about 75, information about a proposed wind farm west of Altus. Wind Works started measuring the wind south of Altus in Feb. 2010 and found favorable results. That combined with the transmission lines with the capacity to carry more electrons made Altus a likely candidate for this green technology.
Eyerly explained the turbines are huge industrial machines. Each turbine itself is the length of a C-5 Galaxy aircraft. Each tower/turbine is approximately 200 feet by 300 feet. They are noisy, Eyerly stated. One couple in the audience said their turbine in Elk City is as loud as a jet engine.
Eyerly said the wind industry has gone to solid towers to avoid letting birds perch there, helping eliminate some avian deaths. There have been cases of bat deaths, but Jackson County doesn’t have that problem, Eyerly said. Some people who are in the shadow of wind turbines experience migraine headaches. The phenomenon is called “flicker”. That is one reason why Wind Works requires that no turbines be built closer to residences than 1,000 feet. An audience member said that research shows there is an association between wind turbines and various neurological problems, including memory loss.
Eyerly walked attendees through the lease. The leasors (people owning the land) would grant the leasee (Wind Works and the company who purchases the wind farm from Wind Works) a three-year lease. The leasor would be paid $1 per acre for the three years. The wind farm must become operational in that time frame. If not the lease terminates. If the wind farm is built, those with turbines on their property would be paid $1,500 per turbine. All of the leasors in the pool, even those who do not actually have one of the 50 to 60 turbines, would receive $10 per acre per year or one percent of the electricity generated for each acre pooled in the wind farm. Farmers and ranchers would be compensated for loss of crop by wind farm equipment installation. Eyerly said he realizes that these incentives to leasors are not large. If Wind Works grants the leasors more money, he feels they will not have enough money left to give the wind energy developer a high enough profit to build it. Most companies need at least a six to eight percent margin to operate, he said. Eyerly frankly told audience members none of them would get rich having a wind turbine on their land.
Two audience members brought up concerns involving Altus Air Force Base. Eyerly freely admitted that AAFB would prefer that Wind Works “relocate the project 30 miles away.” He said concerns regarding interference with radar could be mitigated by building another radar tower. After the meeting Eyerly explained that it would be necessary for the company buying the project to solve this dilemma. The easiest way to do so, he thought, would be to build another radar tower on the other side of the base at the wind company’s expense. That would roughly cost as much as one wind turbine, which Eyerly said runs about $2.5 million. This radar problem would have to be solved before the wind farm would be operational.
The current site is located in a designated flood plain. This issue was raised by two audience members. Eyerly said the wind farm would have to receive various local, state and federal permits before construction.
At the end of the meeting Eyerly said that no one had signed a lease with Wind Works on the project. Unlike other industries, Eyerly said, they can’t force anyone to lease to them. The day they lease 10,000 acres, they are done with the process. Prior to this meeting Eyerly stated the last day to lease is May 15 of this year. To contact Eyerly, call 903-952-8865, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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