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Piedmont City Council approves lawsuit against wind companies

The Piedmont City Council voted Monday night to take "legal action" against developers trying to build a windfarm near the fast-growing city in Canadian County, the latest development in a fight that has already resulted in the ouster of one elected official.
by Andrew Knittle and Paul Monies Modified: August 27, 2013 at 9:17 pm •  Published: August 27, 2013

PIEDMONT — A planned wind farm between Piedmont and Okarche could be up in the air after the Piedmont City Council voted to support legal action against the developers of the project and declared the wind farm a public nuisance.

The actions, which came at a city council meeting Monday evening, were aimed at the Kingfisher wind farm, a 300-megawatt development in northern Canadian County and southern Kingfisher County. The project is being developed by Virginia-based Apex Clean Energy Inc.

The city council voted 3-1, with one abstention, for a resolution authorizing legal action if Apex builds turbines within a three-mile radius of the city limits. The resolution said about 85 of the more than 100 turbines could be included within that distance.

Apex said it has not finalized the placement of turbines for the Kingfisher project. Based on its current plan, up to 43 turbines could be within a three-mile radius of Piedmont's city limits.

If the city joins a lawsuit, the legal costs and fees would be the responsibility of the Central Oklahoma Property Rights Association, a group of residents and landowners who have expressed concerns about wind farm development in central Oklahoma.

Dahvi Wilson, a spokeswoman with Apex, said the company was disappointed the city chose to pursue legal action. Apex plans to continue developing the project, which she said will bring millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs to Canadian and Kingfisher counties.

“We remain committed to working with the city councilors in every way we can to find resolutions that address any concerns they may have,” Wilson said in an email. “We once again extend an invitation to the city councilors to have a conversation with us about the project.”

Separately, the council voted 3-1, with one abstention, to declare the construction, maintenance and modifications of industrial-scale wind turbines within three miles of city limits a “public nuisance.”

State law allows cities to regulate public nuisances within their city limits. It also allows them to regulate projects outside city limits “for the protection of the public health, the public parks and the public water supply.” It is unclear how far outside its city limits a city can go to regulate those subjects.

Health concerns

The amended city ordinance lists several health-related findings for large wind turbines, including complaints about “shadow flicker” and noise. It also mentions concerns over declining property values and visibility issues.

Pam Suttles, a Piedmont resident who heads up the property rights association, said her group wants wind projects far from the city. She said a lawsuit was the group's last option after trying to fight wind projects at the local, county and state levels.

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by Andrew Knittle
Investigative Reporter
Andrew Knittle has covered state water issues, tribal concerns and major criminal proceedings during his career as an Oklahoma journalist. He has won reporting awards from the state's Associated Press bureau and prides himself on finding a real...
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by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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