Breezing through committee: Bills establishing stricter regulation of wind power move forward
February 15, 2019 | M. Scott Carter | journalrecord.com
OKLAHOMA CITY – Three measures that would tighten regulations on the state’s wind energy industry cleared a legislative committee on Thursday and are headed to the full Senate for review.
The bills’ authors said the added oversight is needed to ensure public safety and deal with aging equipment. Wind power advocates, however, said the legislation is unnecessary.
Senate Bills 1004, 964 and 904 were passed by the Senate Energy Committee. Two of those measures, SB 1004 and 964, are expected to go to the full Senate soon. The third bill, SB 904, had its title stricken, a legislative maneuver that prevents the bill from becoming law. The author of SB 904, Edmond Republican Adam Pugh, said he would not restore the title until he had the chance to meet with industry representatives and others affected by the bill.
“I did that because I want to show it’s a work in progress,” Pugh said. “I want to make sure everyone feels like their voice was heard. For me, that’s what this comes down to.”
Under SB 904 no individual wind turbine or any other individual structure “may encroach upon the mission, training or operations of any military installation.” The bill also includes a $1,500-per-day fine for violations of the act.
Pugh, a former Air Force captain, said he wrote the measure to protect members of the military who were training.
“I thought we had the issue revolved last year, but it seems that what we did wasn’t enough,” he said. “This bill is trying to address that. I want to protect the men and women who are doing their job at 10,000 feet.”
In some areas of the state, he said, airmen train at low altitude. He said he was concerned those training would be hampered by large wind turbines.
“Really, if you think about it, it’s kind of a zoning process,” he said.