Commissioners support wind turbine project

·3 min read

Jul. 7—Pittsburg County commissioners are hopeful a proposed wind turbine project in the county will generate more then electricity.

They are optimistic it could also blow lots of money into Pittsburg County.

County commissioners voted Tuesday to sign a letter of support to Red Earth Energy, Inc. for the research and possible development of a wind farm in the southern part of the county.

The letter will be sent to Red Earth Energy, Inc. and is headed "To Whom It May Concern." It states the Pittsburg County Board of Commissioners support "the research and possible development of a wind farm in southern Pittsburg County.

"Pittsburg County supports development of sustainable energy and supports the revenue that will ultimately provide additional funds for our public schools and our county in general," the letter states.

Wind turbines are the huge windmill-shaped structures that generate electricity from the energy produced by the turbines' rotor blades.

No one attended the meeting this week to advocate for the proposed wind turbines, but a Red Earth representative recently spoke with the commissioners about their possible support for the project. Commissioners then set the matter for an action item during their Tuesday meeting.

District 1 Commissioner Charlie Rogers supported the proposal for several reasons.

"It would be great," Rogers said. "It would bring employment. It would bring in money for the wind farm, money for the workers and for the county."

Rogers said he spoke with someone over the past week who has been involved in constructing wind farms in other states and said that individual spoke highly of the results.

District 2 Commissioner Kevin Smith said he was told if the project is completed as planned, anywhere from 75 to 150 of the wind turbines could be placed in the southern part of the county. Land where the wind turbines may be set — which hasn't fully been determined yet — would be leased by Red Earth, which would benefit the property owners, Smith said.

"A lot of folks don't like the looks of them; a lot of folks do," he said. Smith said he's not a fan of looking at wind turbines, but he thinks the benefits to the county, schools and landowners, outweigh his opinion of the visual aspects.

Smith said the information conveyed to him is if the wind farm is completed as planned, it could generate up to $15 million in ad valorem taxes per year. School districts in the area covered by the wind turbines would get from 60-to-65% of that, he said.

Smith said even if everything goes as planned by the energy company, it will be several years before any wind turbines are set up and running in Pittsburg County. He said it's normally a five-year project, with three years required to get approval for a wind turbine project from the various agencies involved, and another two years for construction.

How far apart the turbines would be placed depends on a number of things, including the terrain and housing in a given area, he said.

District 3 Commissioner Ross Selman agreed with the economic reasons for supporting research and development into the proposed project.

"If everything goes well, we'll get some jobs going," Selman said, adding schools would also benefit from the ad valorem taxes paid on the property and landowners would also benefit.

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