Six months after the Board of Adjustment refused to grant a permit for a second wind farm development across the rolling hills of Osage County, a district judge declared Wednesday that the giant turbines must be approved after all.
The county board voted 3-0, with a fourth member abstaining, to deny a conditional use permit for Mustang Run, which wants to construct 68 turbines across 9,000 acres near the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve north of Pawhuska.
The Mustang Run Wind Project promptly sued the board, and District Judge Robert Haney sided with the wind energy developers, partly because previous members of the Board of Adjustment had approved a separate wind farm, now under construction west of Pawhuska.
“It seems inconsistent,” the judge wrote, “for one board to say yes and a subsequent board to say no.”
Haney also dismissed concerns over the wind turbines threatening wildlife, saying it was “speculative.”
And he rejected complaints that the 400-foot towers would damage the sweeping views of the Osage prairie.
“There is just as much of a chance,” the judge wrote, “that the general public will drive to see the operation of a wind farm as would be turned off by it.”
The wind farm developer, Lenexa, Kansas-based TradeWind Energy Inc., welcomed the ruling as “excellent news for Osage County residents and ratepayers across Oklahoma.”
“Mustang Run adds to the energy-producing heritage of Osage County,” a spokesman said in an email to the Tulsa World, “while using no water and creating no emissions and will significantly contribute to the local school district and other services. ”
An attorney for the Board of Adjustment said the board had not yet decided how to respond to the ruling. The Osage Nation, which has fiercely opposed all wind development in the county, also declined to comment.
Meanwhile, the tribe recently raised new complaints against another TradeWind project, Osage Wind, accusing it of violating the Osage Nation’s mineral rights by removing and crushing rock to build turbine foundations. But construction continues.
Osage Wind will include 94 turbines spread across more than 8,000 acres.
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