The Oklahoma Corporation Commission starts hearing public comments Thursday in the proposed $4.5 billion wind farm for Public Service Company.
Commissioners will take public statements beginning at 1:30 p.m. on the Wind Catch Clean Energy Project. The commission will also hold a full hearing on Jan. 8 on the project that’s an effort of PSO and its sister utility Southwestern Electric Power Co.
If approved, the giant wind farm in the Panhandle would be the largest wind farm in the U.S. It would consist of at least 800 wind turbines in Texas and Beaver counties. Approval by regulators would lead to the project to come online by 2021.
Power from the 800 turbines would be carried across a 350-mile dedicated line to a PSO substation north of Tulsa. At the substation, the electricity will be used an an estimated 1.1 million customers of PSO and SWEPCO. Regulators in Oklahoma and three other states have to sign off on the project.
The PSO project has the endorsement of environmentalists including the Sierra Club which promotes its impact such as providing clean energy to more than 440,000 homes. It will also create 4,000 jobs and create $300 million in property taxes for schools and local governments. Supporters argue the massive wind farm will also create $60 million in new tax revenue during construction.
Oklahoma Sierra Club Executive Director Johnson Bridgwater will offer his comments at the Thursday afternoon hearing. So will Al Armendariz, Deputy Regional Director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. He is also a former EPA Region 6 regional administrator.
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter initially opposed the manner in which PSO carried out its application. He contends PSO did not follow competitive bidding rules and failed to show a need for additional generation capacity.
Construction is already underway on the giant project. At least 10 parties have joined the legal battle.
They include : Oklahoma Industrial Energy Consumers; Plains and Eastern Clean Line LLC; Walmart; Oneta Power LLC; Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority; anti-wind incentive group Windfall Coalition; wind developer Novus Windpower LLC of Guymon; and South Central MCN, a Panhandle based transmission utility.