MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Opinion

November 13, 2011

Wind power important to city’s future

— It is easy to get frustrated that Eagle Claw’s promise of up to 175 jobs in Muskogee has not come to fruition.

After all, it has been more than a year since the plans to build a wind turbine tower manufacturing plant at the Port of Muskogee were announced.

Eagle Claw President Tom Word said sluggish economic conditions and Washington gridlock contributed to private investors’ hesitation to fund the alternative-energy project.

The company signed a 25-year lease with the Muskogee City-County Port Authority, and its initial investment at the site should be $28 million or more, port director Scott Robinson said.

The lease, which requires construction to begin by Dec. 31, will have to be modified in order to avoid default by Eagle Claw and a nullification of the contract.

Robinson said he has been working with Word to avoid the default, which both men agreed is not the result they want to see.

Because of the probable construction delays, Robinson said Eagle Claw officials will have to request additional time to start building at the port. In every other way, Robinson said, Eagle Claw is in compliance with the 25-year lease.

And, two pieces of news announced earlier this month might sway investors back to the project.

Oklahoma ranked third in the nation in adding wind-generated electricity during the three-month period of July, August and September.

The American Wind Energy Association’s report issued early this month shows Oklahoma added 130 megawatts to rank behind Colorado and Minnesota.

Wind development specialist Kylah McNabb at the state Department of Commerce told The Journal Record there could be 38,000 megawatts of wind-generated energy in Oklahoma within 20 years.

The good news was further bolstered when the Oklahoma Corporation Commission approved public utility status for the Plains & Eastern Clean Line (Clean Line) transmission project.

The $3.5 billion project will deliver wind power supplemented by natural gas-fired generation from the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles to southeastern states.

It’s good the Port is willing to work with Eagle Claw to keep this project alive. It is important to Muskogee’s future.

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