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Apex offering chance to learn about proposed wind farm

ADA, Okla. – People who are curious about a proposal to build a wind farm in this area can learn more about the project later this month.

The Virginia-based company Apex Clean Energy will host an open house for the Diamond Spring Wind project from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 18 at the Chickasaw Nation Community Center, 700 N. Mississippi Ave. in Ada. The come-and-go event is open to the public, and light refreshments will be served.

Apex team members will be on hand that night to answer questions, and Apex will set up informational boards with details about the Diamond Spring project and wind energy in general.

Diamond Spring

Apex is in the late stages of developing a wind farm containing about 107 turbines on privately owned land in Johnston and Pontotoc counties, senior project developer Kent Dougherty said Thursday. He said the company is finalizing some permitting work and lining up construction financing. but officials don’t see any obstacles that would prevent construction from starting by the end of this year.

“It would be online by the end of 2020,” he said.

The wind farm will be built on about 20,000 acres in Johnston and Pontotoc counties, including 2,240 acres on Pontotoc County’s southern edge. A maintenance and operations center will be built close to the wind farm, possibly in Mill Creek.

Dougherty said that area was a good choice for the wind farm because it was close to a power transmission line, and landowners were receptive to the idea.

“We need to secure land rights in order to build the project, and we were able to work with a number of landowners in this area who understood the benefits of hosting a wind farm,” he said. “All that came together really nicely.”

Dougherty said construction may take nine to 12 months, and it will generate several hundred temporary jobs. He added that Apex tries to hire as many local workers – both skilled and unskilled – as possible during construction, but a lot of the skilled workers required to build the turbines will come from across the country.

The completed wind farm will be tied to the power grid at Oklahoma Gas and Electric’s substation in Tishomingo. It will be capable of generating up to 300 megawatts of electricity – enough to power about 110,000 homes – which will be distributed throughout the Oklahoma grid.

The wind farm will employ between 10 to 12 full-time workers for operations and maintenance.

Economic benefits

Landowners who have wind turbines on their property will receive annual lease payments, which will continue over the project’s 30-year lifespan, according to Apex. The company estimates those payments will inject millions of dollars into the economy in Johnston and Pontotoc counties, supporting local businesses.

Dougherty said over the next 30 years, the wind farm will generate roughly $30 million in ad valorem tax revenue for three school districts – Mill Creek, Roff and Tishomingo. But he noted that tax revenue from the wind farm could affect the amount of state aid those districts receive.