A war over wind is brewing in Canadian County and soon more Oklahomans could be affected. Last year an out-of-state company started putting wind turbines just outside of Calumet. Now some residents fear that wind farm could be a threat to their health and safety. Fox 25 spoke with the company behind the project to find out if their fears are justified.
The Candian Hills Wind Farm is home to 135 turbines and now the developer behind that project has plans for another wind farm in the area. But one person who lives near the turbines wants others to know how the wind farm changed her life.
“I always liked the house growing up,” said Tammy Huffstutlar.
The house Tammy Huffstutlar is describing has always been her dream home.
“We would drive by it and you know, it was one of those, that’s the house that I want,” said Tammy. “That’s where I want to live.”
In 1978 Tammy finally made her dream come true. She and her husband have now been living in Canadian County for 35 years.
“We raised our child here and it’s home,” said Tammy.
Tammy says everything was perfect on her property until May when construction began nearby.
“They started Northwest of us and you could see them coming,” said Tammy.
Today her house is surrounded by turbines. Each one stands 440-feet tall.
“To look over my property and the first thing you see is a wind turbine in your face is very very, I’m very angry,” said Tammy.
The 135 turbine wind farm is part of the Canadian Hills Wind Farm developed by Apex Wind Energy.
“It delivers clean, safe, renewable energy that also increases this country’s energy security,” said Kent Dougherty of Apex Wind Energy.
But some Canadian County residents like Tammy have some concerns. Tammy says her husband has a heart condition called Supraventricular Tachycardia.
“If not kept under control, the heart races until he will have a heart attack,” said Tammy.
Tammy says her husband’s heart problem was kept under control for years until the turbines popped up.
“Went to the doctor and they have increased his medication, but he’s still having some spells, some episodes of a runaway heart,” said Tammy.
She blames the problem on their new neighbors.
“We have noticed when we leave the property, if we’re gone to another town, get out from underneath them, his heart settles back down,” said Tammy.
But the project’s developer says the turbines are safe.
“There have been numerous studies that have asked these same questions and in each case found that there can be no conclusive evidence that wind turbines can be directed towards a negative impact on human health,” said Dougherty.
But Tammy points to other troubles with the turbines.
“I saw my first goose killed with that turbine right there,” said Tammy.
Apex admits some birds can die, but says the amount is small.
“I think the wind energy industry, they estimated had .003% responsibility for all avian deaths in this country,” said Dougherty.
Soon Apex will put another estimated 120 turbines between Canadian and Kingfisher Counties and plans are still in the works for another project.
Marisa Mendelson, Fox 25 News: What would you like to say to people who live in an area where a wind turbine project is planned and they’re concerned about it?
Kent Dougherty, Apex Wind Energy: We find that most of these concerns come out when the project is announced.
Apex says most of those concerns go away with education.
“The financial benefits, the economic benefits of these projects are really significant,” said Dougherty.
But after Tammy learned more about her new neighbor, her concerns only grew.
“I don’t want to stay here and neither does my husband,” said Tammy.
Now she and her husband say they plan to sell the house they once considered their dream.
“This isn’t home anymore, you know,” said Tammy. “Things changed up. Sad.”
Canadian County does not currently have a group that monitors where turbines can go. Right now it’s just up to the company to sign a lease with the land owner. In part two of our series, find out what a County Commissioner is trying to do to regulate wind farms.
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