December 12, 2013

Settlements pave way for Kingfisher wind farm between Piedmont and Okarche

By Paul Monies |

PIEDMONT – Large wind turbines planned near the city will no longer be deemed “public nuisances” after city councilors voted to repeal an ordinance passed earlier this year.

The vote came Monday evening as the city, a group of property owners and Apex Clean Energy Inc. announced a settlement on a dispute over the Kingfisher wind farm planned for northern Canadian County and southern Kingfisher County.

The Kingfisher wind farm is a 300-megawatt project between Piedmont and Okarche. Apex hasn’t started construction, but the project is expected to be operational by 2015.

“We’re very pleased we’ve been able to come to an agreement, and we’re looking forward to moving forward on the project with the support of the community,” said Dahvi Wilson, a spokeswoman for Apex.

The settlement agreement maps out parts of northeast Canadian County and a sliver of southeast Kingfisher County where Apex will not place turbines for the project. It also limits turbine height to 499 feet and puts in a 1,500-foot setback from the homes of landowners who haven’t signed leases with Apex. In return, the city agreed not to interfere with the project. Apex’s subsidiary, Kingfisher Wind LLC, agreed to pay the city $20,000 as reimbursement for expenses related to the settlement agreement.

A second agreement was signed between Apex and the Central Oklahoma Property Rights Association (COPRA), which has fought the project since last year. In a statement, COPRA’s Pam Suttles said the group and Apex were in negotiations over a possible settlement for several months.

“COPRA has been working on behalf of member landowners and local citizens and we are very pleased that the agreement is now completed,” Suttles said in a statement.

Piedmont City Council voted Monday to repeal an ordinance passed in late August that declared large wind turbines to a “public nuisance.” The ordinance had forbid turbines to be built within three miles of Piedmont’s city limits. The city used a section of state law that allows cities to regulate nuisances outside of their city limits to protect public health, public parks and water supplies.

A group of landowners in Kingfisher County filed a lawsuit in September against Piedmont and the Central Oklahoma Property Rights Association over the city’s ordinance against large wind turbines. The landowners’ attorney, Maurice Woods, said that lawsuit would likely be dismissed after the repeal of the ordinance.

“I feel like it was successful in bringing pressure to bear to bring Piedmont and COPRA to a settlement,” Woods said Tuesday.

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