House Committee Advances Bill Placing Location Restrictions on New Wind Farms
A bill adding new regulations and oversight of Oklahoma’s booming wind industry passed a House committee on Tuesday.
House Bill 1549, one of several bills filed in the 2015 Legislature that target the wind industry, places limits on where companies can build new wind farms. The proposed measure would prevent new wind farms from being built near schools, hospitals or airports.
The bill was written by Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville. He says landowners and the wind industry were consulted when crafting the legislation.
“There’s no hidden agenda there,” he told StateImpact. “I’m a schoolman, I have family that may periodically have to go to a hospital, and I don’t want our pilots worried about it.”
The House Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 11-2 in approving HB 1549. Representatives Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, and Tommy Hardin, R-Madill, voted not to pass the bill out of committee.
Under the bill, wind companies would have to notify nearby landowners before turbine construction and hold a public hearing. The measure also requires stricter proof of wind project financing and turbine decommissioning.
Sears has authored additional legislation that reels in tax credits used by wind companies.
The House Utilities Committee on Wednesday withdrew another wind industry bill over concerns that it would threaten the Plans and Eastern Clean Line, a proposal that could connect Oklahoma’s panhandle to the southeastern U.S. power grid with a 700-mile high-voltage direct current transmission line.
Rep. Todd Thomsen, R-Ada, pulled the bill, the Associated Press reports:
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s chief of staff, Melissa Houston, says her office requested the bill amid concerns from Oklahoma landowners about the use of federal eminent domain powers to acquire land for the project.