Oklahoma study accents wind impact

The wind energy industry has invested more than $6bn to build facilities in Oklahoma, and contributed over $1bn for production of goods and services in the state, according to a new report by advocacy group The Wind Coalition.

Issued on Wednesday, the report done by independent consulting firm Economic Impact Group also estimates that the state’s 26 active wind farms will further contribute $1.8bn in economic activity during their initial 20-year power off-take agreements.

About 4,000 workers are employed by the industry in Oklahoma which includes manufacturing and support industries, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Wind farms pay about $43m annually in property taxes and more than $22m to landowners.

“Wind energy is no longer ‘alternative’ energy,” says Curt Roggow, The Wind Coalition director for Oklahoma. “It has become a mainstream, reliable and cost-effective source of energy for the people of Oklahoma.”

The report coincides with a bill passed earlier this month by the state Senate that would place a three-year moratorium on wind farm construction in the eastern third of Oklahoma. Supporters say the measure is needed because wind developers are trampling over the property rights of individuals.

For example, if a landowner leases land for turbines, this has a negative effect on a neighboring landowners that does not, they say.

The bill’s fate is uncertain in the lower house. Republican Governor Mary Fallin has been a strong supporter of the industry.

The first Oklahoma turbine began spinning in 2003 and more than 3.37GW of generation capacity is now installed.