NextEra Energy, is putting up new wind turbines without the needed federal approval, in violation of a recently approved state law.
Aug 30, 2018 |ALEX CAMERON | News9.com | Oklahoma City, OK
HINTON, Oklahoma – The actions of a Florida-based energy company are proving to be a test case for a new law intended to protect what many believe is Oklahoma’s most valuable military asset — air space.
A News 9 investigation reveals the company, NextEra Energy, is putting up new wind turbines without the needed federal approval, in violation of a recently approved state law.
The law, which took effect in May, mandates that wind developers obtain either “no hazard” determinations for each turbine from the Federal Aviation Administration or work out a mitigation plan with the Department of Defense, and then submit notification of such with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, before construction may begin.
NextEra has not procured those approvals, and yet has gone ahead with construction.
The amended project included 175 turbines, each of which is evaluated separately through the submission of a Form 7460-1. A check of the status of any of those evaluations today at the FAA’s web site produced this statement: “This proposal has not yet been studied. Study outcomes will be posted at a later date.”
The Huffstutlars say their photographs show that NextEra is blatantly disregarding the law.
“They’re doing as they please,” Tammy Huffstutlar said, “not what our Oklahoma laws state.”
The FAA has no authority to halt construction, except in extreme cases of flight obstruction, and so NextEra is not violating federal law. However, with the passage of HB 3561 last session, the company would appear to violating state law.
“I have officially informed NextEra of this,” said Mike Cooper, Chairman of the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission, “[and told them] that we would be giving them a formal notice of not meeting the requirements of the law.”
Under the new law, Cooper, in his capacity as Commission Chair, is responsible for facilitating communication between all of the vested parties — the developer, the affected military bases, the FAA, and the Department of Defense. He says the point of the law was, first, to ensure public safety, and, second, to protect Oklahoma air space.
“Our number one military value asset in the state of Oklahoma is our air space,” Cooper explained. “This is why this bill was developed.”