NPR Story
3:51 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

After Year-Long Fight, City and Developer Reach Deal for Piedmont Wind Farm

A wind farm in western Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A wind farm in western Oklahoma.

After a year of grassroots opposition, tumultuous local politics and lawsuits, the City of Piedmont has reached an agreement with Apex Clean Energy over a proposed 130-turbine wind farm.

On Dec. 9, the city council voted to approve an agreement with the Virginia-based company, “with the blessing” of the Central Oklahoma Property Rights Association, an organization that was fighting the project over concerns that the turbines would harm property values, the Piedmont Citizen‘s Ben Felder reports:

The agreement states that turbines will not be constructed within a “no turbine area” that stretches primarily west of Piedmont to Manning Rd. The agreement also states that turbines will not be larger than 499 feet from “the ground to the highest tip of the turbine blade” and that the turbines won’t be built within 1,500 feet of a non-participating landowner.

The restricted area keeps turbines away from some of Piedmont’s western neighborhoods, but allows construction up to the city limits along the northern edge of the city. Turbines are not allowed inside city limits.

Additionally, Apex will pay the city $20,000 in a one-time payment for “costs incurred and owed to date in connection with this agreement.”

Oklahoma is a major wind-energy producer, but the state doesn’t regulate wind energy, which means towns, cities and counties are responsible for establishing and enforcing siting, zoning and safety rules, StateImpact reported in September 2013.

Many landowners welcome wind turbines — and the checks that come with leasing land to a wind-energy developer — but some Oklahomans are worried about ice-throws from turbines, and other safety concerns. Landowners also complain about the sound of the spinning blades and the strobe light-like shadow flicker turbines can cast on homes.

Piedmont’s city council also voted to repeal an ordinance created to keep a three-mile turbine-free buffer around the city, the Citizen reports.

That ordinance drew a lawsuit from residents in Kingfisher County and officials with Apex and the city believe it will be dropped following Monday’s new vote.

City Manager Jim Crosby said the new agreement also means the city will “not interfere with anything they do outside that [prohibited area].”

Copyright 2013 StateImpact Oklahoma. To see more, visit http://stateimpact.npr.org/oklahoma/.