Dozens of area residents turned out Tuesday for a town hall meeting to learn more about a proposed wind farm developer’s plan to locate partially in Pontotoc County.
Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy is moving forward with plans to build a 300 megawatt, industrial scale wind farm on 40,000 acres of land in Johnston, Murray and Pontotoc counties. Developers say about 1,800 acres of the farm will be located in Pontotoc County.
Apex Development Manager Patrick Brown said the location will allow the company to use smaller turbines, enabling Apex to place anywhere from one to eight turbines per section of the development. Brown said three sections will be placed in Pontotoc County, each likely containing four turbines for a total of 12 to be located within the county limits.
The Pontotoc County portion of the farm will be built near the county’s border with Johnston and Murray counties – where state Highways 7 and 1 meet, east of state Highway 1, continuing to the Blue River.
Brown said the location was chosen because of the type of wind occurring in the region.
“If you look at the wind map of Oklahoma, everything to the west and the Panhandle – it’s faster wind than (the turbines) can stand up in,” Brown said. “There are these few pockets of really fast winds on the eastern side of the state – the Arbuckle Mountain projects (for example) and then further east, you have the area we’re centered on.”
Developers say the three-county location is ideally suited for their purpose.
“It’s a really good pocket of wind,” Brown said. “There’s good transmission capacity in the area, and that’s what led us here, that little diamond in the rough – good capacity and good land ownership.”
The power generated by the wind farm will be transmitted to lines owned by the Public Service Co. of Oklahoma.
“We’ll interconnect into a 345-kilovolt line – those (are the) big double-pole (lines) owned by the Public Service Co. of Oklahoma,” Brown said. “Right now (that power) is flowing east but that could change. It’ll go to PSO in PSO’s service territory.”
Apex officials said they have already met with Johnston County commissioners, and they plan to meet with Pontotoc County commissioners within the next month or so to attempt to secure the necessary permissions they need to finalize their development plan.
Brown said the company’s goal is to have the farm online by the summer of 2019. He said Apex plans to start construction in late summer or early fall 2018. He said Apex will build an operation and maintenance facility in Mill Creek or Sulphur, where the 12 to 13 employees needed to maintain the turbines will be headquartered.
“Once the project is operational, we’ll need about one person per 10 to 12 turbines, plus supervisors,” Brown said. “The whole project is expected to be about 130 turbines, so there’ll be about 12 to 13 long-term employees.”
Brown said residents who missed the town hall and have questions can visit the company’s website, where they may read more about wind energy or contact Apex to have their questions answered.
The company’s website is located at www.apexcleanenergy.com.
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