TAHLEQUAH — The Cherokee Nation has agreed to partner with Chicago-based PNE Wind USA Inc., to develop the largest tribal wind farm in the United States, according to a media release.
“The Cherokee Nation is playing a significant role in creating new green jobs and expects to play a key role in Oklahoma's emerging wind energy industry,” said Principal Chief Bill John Baker in the release. “The Cherokee Nation is committed to growing the Oklahoma economy, helping reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil and creating sustainable jobs for our people in the renewable energy sector.”
The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council voted 14-2 to enter into the project that is estimated to generate $16 million over the next 20 years. Development of the 90-turbine wind farm will start immediately on 6,000 acres on the Chilocco property in Kay County, site of a former Indian boarding school.
The wind farm would provide 153 megawatts of power to the southwest grid region for homes, businesses and farms.
“This is the largest wind farm on tribal land in the U.S.,” said Ellen Wesley, director of PNE Wind USA Inc. “We’re thrilled to have the Cherokees as a partner in this endeavor. It’s a win for the land and the people.”
The Cherokee Nation owns half of the land on which the wind farm will sit. Chilocco was ideal because of its wind resources, and environmental studies show it will not curtail the migratory bird population. The entire Chilocco wind farm will encompass 6,000 acres total. The other 3,000 acres is owned by four other tribes, the Kaw, Otoe-Missouria, Pawnee and Ponca nations.