OKLAHOMA CITY – Florida-based NextEra Energy said Monday it plans to build a 250-megawatt, 90-turbine wind farm in Garfield and Alfalfa counties near Enid.
Skeleton Creek wind farm, planned to be operational by the end of the year, will raise more than $54 million in property taxes, have $300 million in capital costs and pay $57 million to participating landowners over the 30-year life span of the project, said NextEra Communications Specialist Roxanne Reyes.
Reyes said the project will create 200 to 300 jobs during construction and six to 10 permanent, operational jobs through the life span of the wind farm.
NextEra currently operates 15 wind power projects in Oklahoma, two of which are in Garfield County. Skeleton Creek’s location was decided through a detailed process including a study of wind power potential in the area and finding landowners who were willing to work with NextEra, the world’s largest wind power producer, Reyes said.
NextEra representatives will attend an open house from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 26 at the Central National Bank Center in Enid, where residents will be able to ask the company questions about the project.
Reyes said the community response to the project has been “overwhelmingly positive” so far.
“It’s really an opportunity for us to come out, meet the community and answer any questions the community may have on the specific project,” Reyes said.
The company is in the process of acquiring the needed permits and hopes to start construction soon, she said.
“We’ve had great success with other projects in the state and we really enjoy our relationship with all the counties we currently have projects in,” Reyes said. “We are very happy in working with Oklahoma and continuing growth in renewables in the state.”
The American Wind Energy Association ranks Oklahoma third for installed wind capacity at 8,072 MW and fourth for the number of wind turbines at 3,984. According to AWEA, wind accounted for 31.9 percent of in-state electricity production in 2017. The land-based technical wind potential with an 80-meter hub height is 359,434 MW.
Mark Yates is vice president of Advanced Power Alliance, an industry trade group and advocate of renewable power. Yates said the project is “great news” for Oklahoma, and especially Garfield and Alfalfa counties, which will benefit from the taxes and landowner lease payments NextEra will pay.
“We’re excited to see more developments in the pipelines in the near future for Oklahoma. We think it’s not only a great thing for the local communities (and) counties (with the) tax dollars for schools, it’s exciting to see continued development without state incentive,” Yates said.
Cliff Branan, executive director of the Windfall Coalition, a group formed to end all subsidies for wind power in Oklahoma, declined to comment.
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