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Cameron University hosts wind energy forum

(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)
(Source KSWO) (Source KSWO)

LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -One of the largest sources of energy and biggest economic factors in the state was a hot topic at Cameron University today.

But, it's not oil or gas. It's wind. Scott Greene, a professor and director of the Oklahoma Wind Power Initiative helped educate and spread awareness of the impact wind energy has on the state during a forum today on the campus.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, Oklahoma ranked third in the nation in 2015 for total wind energy generation, and the industry is growing, so you can expect to see even more of those giant windmills in the near future.

Robbie Traughber says although he understands wind turbines have many positive impacts such as, reducing air pollution from fossil electricity sources and it helps us gain energy independence, he came to the meeting today because he still has some questions about the downfalls.

"I'm going to do some more research on what the wind farms are doing for Oklahoma the income revenue stream that are generated and the taxes that are being generated for the county that they operate in,” said Traughber.

You might have seen wind turbines like these that are in Marlow. There's almost 6,000 of them across the state. They range from 65 feet to 820 feet in the sky. Dr. Scott Greene, the director of OKWPI, says the economic impact this form of energy has our state is substantial.

"It's brought 10 billion dollars of economic development to the state,” said Traughber. “7,000-8,000 jobs. It's 20 percent of the electricity generation within Oklahoma. It's not an alternative, it's something that's a hardcore, mainstream, part of the Oklahoma energy blend."

Greene says a lot of people don't know those facts and he wants to help educate people who don't fully understand what purpose they serve.

"They're not aware that those thing spinning around mean almost $150 million dollars of tax revenue added to the state, and that means thousands of jobs, said Greene. It means $10 million dollars a year goes to land owners. It's one of those things that people I think of us as an oil and gas state but we're number 3 in the county in wind and that's something that's been exploding and I think will continue to expand."

Greene says he's heard complaints of wind turbines being noise disturbances, a threat to wildlife and safety concerns. He says as an educator, he travels to spread awareness and give answers to people with these concerns. Greene says he's passionate about this subject because Oklahoma is an energy state.

"It's something for me that's just exciting,” said Greene. “I see those, I see dollars, I see jobs, I see environmental positives, I see local impact and as a state employee I want to get the word out that here's a great success story in the state and maybe people aren't quite aware of it."

Traughber says although he feels skeptical about the issue, he says he understands at the end of the day, it's good for the environment.

"Wind energy is an important part of I guess you would call it green,” said Traughber. “I think any way that we can help our world become more green is a good thing."

Across the U.S, there's been over $128 billion dollars in new wind project investment over the last 10 years. And over 70% of wind farms are located in low-income counties, supplying them with an economic boost.

Copyright 2016 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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