Wind energy is a growing trend in Oklahoma, and northwest Canadian County has seen the arrival of wind turbines near the Concho area.
However, not everyone is sold on wind power and some landowners are voicing their concern of a wind farm that is trying to grow eastward towards the Piedmont area. Those concerned have spoken with District 1 Canadian County Commissioner Phil Carson and even spoke at last week’s commissioner’s meeting.
Now, Canadian County officials are considering a county-wide vote on whether to form a planning commission in an attempt to communicate with developers in the unincorporated areas of the county. A public hearing will be held Saturday, Jan. 5 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Canadian Valley Technology Center in El Reno as county officials will inform citizens about the proposed planning commission.
“I totally believe in wind power and I think it is a great thing that we are trying to harness energy from the win,” said Carson. “But I think power should be located in the proper location.”
Carson said areas in his district our booming with growth, especially along Northwest Expressway on up towards Piedmont.
“In 1958, Piedmont just one graduating senior and a population of 160,” he said. “Look at it today, other cities like Mustang are also growing very quickly. Oklahoma County is completely full and the expansion is coming our way.”
Carson said the construction of more wind turbines in his district could hamper the possibility for more growth.
“Right now, you can do just about anything you want in the unincorporated areas of the county,” he said. “You could put in a trash yard, a pitbull kennel or a rifle range. My theory with a planning committee would be to protect the citizens. This is not to tell them they can or cannot build a fence somewhere or anything like that. We need to be able to draw a line somewhere and say that these wind towers are close enough to the areas where we want to expand.”
Citizens flooded the Canadian County Courthouse on Monday, Dec. 17 to speak to the commissioners about their thoughts on the wind turbines. Some voiced health concerns from the turbines while others said they just did not like the appearance of them.
“There are some landowners out there that have a lot of land and I understand if they want these to be built on their property to make some money,” Carson said. “On the other hand, there are some housing additions that are adjacent to the properties where they want to build these things.”
District 2 Commissioner David Anderson said the county has no control where wind turbines are built.
“The wind developers contact the property owners and then they secure a lease agreement,” Anderson said. “The county has not control over where they are located. I talked with the District Attorney and he told me that all a planning commission could do is maintain a plan, but we could not enforce it.”
Anderson said he opposed a county-wide vote for a planning commission.
“I oppose it because it is a county-wide vote for something that does not affect the entire county,” he said.
Anderson said a few other counties in Oklahoma already have planning commissions in place, such as Beckham County and Rogers Mills County.
Carson said he believed the whole county should be able to vote on the measure.
“These sort of things are happening right by our cities,” he said. “It’s just not about wind towers, its protecting our rural citizens from other things as well.”
Last May, Apex Wind Energy began construction of the Canadian Hills Wind Farm near the intersection of Calumet Road and 192nd St.
“They are proposing a three phase project and we have just seen the first phase,” Carson said. “If all three phases are completed, we may have 400 more wind turbines in Canadian County and that would be an end to any expansion in that part of the county.”