Oklahoma residents concerned about 350-mile power line state enidnews.com gas mask art

She knows of at least 30 other sinkholes on her 1,200 acres, the Tulsa World reported. She said she can only imagine how many are just under the surface of the Gypsum Hills region — home to the nearby Alabaster Caverns State Park, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Selman Bat Cave, and right next door to the University of Central Oklahoma’s Selman Living Laboratory, all of which are home to miles of caves and hundreds of thousands of bats.

Wind Catcher, a partnership between Public Service Company of Oklahoma and Southwestern Electric Power Co., is a $4.5 billion project aimed at providing clean, affordable wind energy while boosting the state’s economy, according to a statement from PSO.

It includes a 2,000-megawatt wind farm in development with 800 turbines in Texas and Cimarron counties that is being built by Chicago-based Invenergy. General Electric is providing the turbines. Subject to regulatory approvals, the power companies will acquire the wind farm from Invenergy when it is operational in 2020.

"PSO is one of the largest purchasers of wind power in Oklahoma. Wind energy has helped us provide our customers with clean, reliable energy at stable and affordable prices," Jackson wrote in an email. "Our long-term plan is to increase reliance on clean energy resources, like natural gas, wind and solar energy. When it comes on line, Wind Catcher will be the lowest cost energy on our system."

Jackson noted that the line would be roughly 350 miles long with towers every 1,000 to 1,500 feet along the route — that’s 1,400 to 1,750 towers. Each tower is 140 feet tall with a base that is 40 to 50 feet across. The right-of-way will be 200 feet wide.

"There is no way any power transmission line coming out of the Panhandle is going to miss important prairie chicken habitat because the best prairie chicken habitat in Oklahoma is in Beaver County. There’s just no way to miss it," she said. "It is an issue, but right now our main concerns are the bats and destroying their (hibernation area), the erosion it could cause and the idea of building a power line across this area with all these sinkholes."

The lab was created to protect the Selman Cave System, which has nearly three miles of passageways and several entrances on the laboratory lands and the neighboring ranches. It is home to the largest hibernating population of cave myotis bats in Oklahoma at 70,000 to 100,000, as well as four other species, including the rare Townsend’s big-eared bat, he said.

"This is a unique place, a special part of the country, and I don’t think they really know what they’re getting into up here," he said. "The timeline — they’re doing this too fast. I don’t see how they’re going to be able to do any kind of environmental study to know what kinds of problems that kind of construction could cause."

"At this time we’re still working to identify a proposed route," she said. "Once identified, a siting study will be prepared that documents our process, outreach efforts, data gathering effort, and the environmental, cultural, and land use considerations used in the selection of the proposed route.

"This document is not an Environmental Assessment or Environmental Impact Statement under the federal National Environmental Policy Act, but includes much of the same information and analysis. Any additional analysis or process requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act will only be identified once a Proposed Route is ultimately selected," she wrote.

No more community meetings are scheduled along the route, but Jackson said PSO and Wind Catcher representatives will be meeting with individuals and that the virtual open house on the PSO website includes all of the project details, including maps and technical data, and still provides a link for people to provide comments.