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Lawsuit filed against NextEra wind projects in Caddo County

A group in Caddo County has filed a lawsuit against two wind farms, claiming the developer didn’t adequately notify state and local officials and nearby residents of turbine locations.

The Scenic Prairie Preservation Association originally filed the lawsuit against NextEra Energy Resources LLC earlier this month in Caddo County district court. The case was moved to federal court in Oklahoma City this week.

The association, which was formed three weeks ago, said NextEra didn’t properly notify the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and local residents under Senate Bill 808. It wants the court to stop any construction until the company has resubmitted its notice requirements.

SB 808, passed in 2015, requires wind turbines to be at least 1.5 nautical miles, or 9,100 feet, from a school, hospital or airport. It also requires developers to register their intent with the Corporation Commission and file legal notices in local newspapers.

The Scenic Prairie Preservation Association said it has members who live in and own land within the projects’ boundaries. According to its petition, the group seeks to preserve the “culture, beauty and historic treasures which are at risk in western Oklahoma.”

Filings with the Oklahoma Secretary of State show the association was formed by Dean Smith, Tammy Huffstutlar and Nacona Smith. Huffstutlar has been an outspoken opponent of wind farms and has appeared several times before legislative and regulatory proceedings.

In an affidavit filed in federal court, NextEra’s John DiDonato denied that it failed to provide adequate notification of the locations of 156 turbines across the two projects. Construction has not yet started on the wind farms.

“NextEra believes that the association’s lawsuit is an attempt to delay or halt the construction of one or more of the turbines already sited for Minco IV and Minco V,” said DiDonato, the company’s vice president of development.

Requests for comment to an attorney for the association and to the company weren’t immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.