Wind energy projects have equaled more than $500 million invested in Garfield County, Enid Regional Development Alliance Executive Director Brent Kisling said during a Rewarded with Wind workshop last week.

With the construction of a wind farm, there’s 200 to 300 construction workers in town for a year, but, long term, those are 20- to 25-year contracts on the wind turbines, Kisling said.

“Over the life of those wind farms, we’re going to collect maybe $100 million worth of ad valorem tax in this county,” he said. “We may collect $80 to $90 million worth of landowner payments in this county, which is new money, new wealth, that’s coming to our landowners here. I equate that to that’s about $5 million a year in landowner payments.

 “That’s the equivalent of us bringing in a new manufacturing plant that employs 130 people at county average wage, and we knew they were going to be here for 20 years. That’s what the wind farms do for our local economy here.”

Enid is the heart of not just existing wind energy, but also potential for the growth of wind energy in the area, Kisling said.

A lot of the wind turbines in this area of the country are going to be retooled over the next several years, he said. The turbines were built as 1.3 or 1.5 megawatt wind turbines and will likely be converted over to 3 megawatt wind turbines.

“There’s a lot of construction that’s going to be happening here over the next five to 10 years with retooling those wind farms,” Kisling said.

The Clean Line Energy project is another development.

 “A $2 billion transmission line that’s going to go from Guymon to Memphis, Tennessee, to pump our value-added wind in this area to the Tennessee Valley Authority and then on to population centers on the east coast. It’s 3,500 megawatts, which is millions, tens of millions of dollars worth of investment that will happen in Northwest Oklahoma because of wind,” he said.

Kisling said he is a “huge wind proponent.”

“Even though in Washington sometimes it seems like it’s more of a liberal discussion, I’ve gotten to see it here on the ground as a dollars and cents issue for our community,” he said. “We truly have had a lot of investment in our area.”

Rewarded with Wind is a campaign for supporters of wind energy and is a project of the Wind Energy Foundation, according to information provided at the workshop Friday afternoon.

“I love the concept of what they’re doing, and it’s probably something in wind energy we should have done a long time ago,” Kisling said. “It’s about creating advocates for this industry.”

Story by:  Enid News and Eagle
Written by:  Jessica Miller