Chermac Energy Corporation and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) entered into a Memorandum of Agreement to voluntarily partially offset potential habitat loss for the Lesser Prairie Chicken (“LEPC”). The MOA covers voluntary payments for possible affects to LEPC and their habitat caused by a planned 55 mile high voltage transmission line from near the Kansas State Line to the OG&E Woodward EHV substation that will be used to carry up to 900 MW of wind energy from Harper County to the rest of Oklahoma and beyond.
“This is a great day for Oklahoma business and the environment,” stated Jaime McAlpine, President of Chermac. “It has taken over two years of continuous negotiations and discussions with the ODWC to reach an agreement that will bring resolution to a vital piece needed for wind energy development in northwest Oklahoma. I want to thank Secretary of Environment Gary Sherrer, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission and ODWC staff for working with the wind industry to help allow development of new wind farms in Oklahoma including necessary transmission. Hopefully this will be used as a model for other energy developers to work with the ODWC in protecting our state’s environmental attributes while responsibly developing the abundant energy resources of Oklahoma.”
The transmission line, scheduled for construction in 2013-2014, will ultimately carry enough energy to serve over 250,000 households and allow for substantial wind energy development in Harper County. The landowners, Harper County government, and affected school districts will all stand to receive substantial financial benefit from the agreement and wind farm opportunities it will create.
Director Richard Hatcher of the ODWC said, “This agreement shows that the ODWC is working with industries in our state for a balance between sound environmental policies and economic development for our state. This agreement is important in recognizing the need to protect certain species and their habitat in Oklahoma while allowing energy and jobs to flourish.”
“These types of voluntary agreements continue to illustrate that the wind industry wants to work with our state in developing good business practices that provide significant financial benefits to all Oklahomans while recognizing the environmental needs of those same Oklahomans and the U.S.,” Secretary of Environment Gary Sherrer said. “We hope that others in the energy industries, private environmental groups and US Fish and Wildlife Service will take note of what Oklahomans are doing voluntarily for preservation of the Lesser Prairie Chicken.”
The agreement calls for the payment of a total of $2.5 million with the money being used to help leverage additional matching funds from private and Federal entities for preservation, enhancement and acquisition of LEPC habitat.