TAHLEQUAH - The Cherokee Nation has approved plans to team up with four other tribes to develop a 90-turbine wind farm in Kay County.

The five tribes will jointly operate the facility with 45 turbines on 3,000 acres of Cherokee-owned property and 45 more turbines on 3,000 acres owned by the four other tribes - the Kaw Nation, Otoe-Missouria Tribe, Pawnee Nation and Ponca Nation.

The Cherokee Nation's partner is Chicago-based PNE Wind USA Inc. Development of the wind farm will begin immediately, tribal officials said.

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In a news release, the Cherokee Nation says the wind farm will be the largest of its kind on tribal land in the United States.

"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 Cherokee Nation Chief Bill John Baker. "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 project is estimated to generate $16 million during the next 20 years, according to the news release. It is expected to provide 153 megawatts of power to the Southwest grid.

Oklahoma added 1,127 megawatts of wind capacity last year, as previously reported in the World. Oklahoma also jumped several spots to rank sixth overall with 3,135 megawatts, which is about 10.5 percent of total electrical generation in the state.

"The Cherokee Nation has an opportunity to be a leader among Indian nations in renewable energy," said Tribal Councilor Chuck Hoskin Jr. "The tribe will be able to utilize an underutilized resource. We talk a lot about protecting our environment and conserving our resources, so this is a prime opportunity to put words into action."

"The Cherokee Nation will own half of the project, which is significant because usually they are private owners," said Ellen Wesley, director of PNE Wind USA. "We're thrilled to have the Cherokees as a partner in this endeavor. It's a win for the land and the people."

Jarrel Wade 918-581-8367

jarrel.wade@tulsaworld.comSUBHEAD: They'll partner with four other tribes to develop a wind farm.

Original Print Headline: Cherokees OK joint wind-energy endeavor

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