HINTON — NextEra Energy Resources has withdrawn plans to build a wind farm that had been opposed by Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission, the company confirmed May 17.
Construction on the company’s wind farm west of Hinton was stopped last October after NextEra and OSMPC agreed to work on a mitigation plan with the Defense Department to resolve the issue. Hinton is 53 miles west of Oklahoma City and 88 miles south-southwest of Enid.
OSMPC contended the wind farm violated a recent amendment to the Wind Energy Development Act. Changes to the law require a determination by the federal government that planned wind turbine construction has no military impact, or the company must have an approved mitigation plan from the Defense Department before a wind farm is constructed or expanded.
The two entities had been in negotiations over a mitigation plan, with Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter representing OSMPC, until May 17, when OSMPC Chairman Mike Cooper said NextEra withdrew plans to build the wind farm.
Cooper said it was a good move for both the military and wind industry, and for Oklahoma.
In a statement, Hunter also thanked the entities involved for coming to a conclusion that protects military interests.
“I commend all parties, including NextEra, the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission, the Air Force and the FAA for coming together and negotiating in good faith to resolve this issue,” Hunter said. “Although the decision by the company to withdraw the planned wind farms is difficult, we appreciate their leadership and foresight that will help us safeguard the airspace used to train members of the Armed Forces. The airspace used for training is critical to one of the military’s most vital assets. To disrupt it in any way would threaten our national defense and we thank NextEra for recognizing that.”
Bryan Garner, NextEra Energy Resources communication director, said the company withdrew the plans after good faith negotiations on all sides.
“We respect all their important missions and we respect the balance between national security and economic development and affordable, clean energy,” Garner wrote to the News & Eagle. “Unfortunately, we could not find a solution that satisfied all stakeholders. Therefore, we have decided to suspend our development activities on both Minco V and Crowder, another wind project located in the same military training route.”
He said withdrawing the wind farm plans was the right thing to do for all sides.
“One of our company’s core values is doing the right thing,” Garner said. “In this case, we believe this is the right thing to do for all stakeholders involved. We look forward to working with the military, the FAA and the state on other important projects in the state and across the nation.”
Garner said NextEra remains committed to its growing investments in Oklahoma, which already total more than $5 billion and 15 operational wind farms.
“We plan to continue developing successful wind projects, working together with local and state leaders and the military,” Garner wrote. “We continue to develop the Skeleton Creek Wind project in Garfield and Alfalfa counties, a project that has the potential to create good jobs and millions in additional revenue for landowners and the community.”
The 250 MW Skeleton Creek wind farm, comprised of about 90 GE wind turbines, is under construction in the northwest corner of Garfield County and southeast corner of Alfalfa County. NextEra told the News & Eagle in March the wind farm will generate between $50 million and $60 million in property taxes and give about $60 million in landowner payments during the first 30 years of the project.