Rep. Jon Nelson believes a plan for the dismantling of inactive North Dakota wind farms is comparable to coal mine land reclamation, but the Wolford Republican couldn’t muster enough lawmakers who agreed.
The North Dakota House on Friday defeated, 57-34, a bill to give the state Public Service Commission broad power to write rules for the decommissioning of wind farms, including authority to require companies to post a bond to cover the expense.
Rep. Mike Brandenburg, R-Edgeley, argued the bill was unnecessary and would add extra cost for an industry that is finding its legs in North Dakota. The American Wind Energy Association rates the state as No. 1 in wind-power generation potential.
“At this point in the infancy of these wind generation (projects), this is not the time to put more … burdensome costs that would take us further out of the market,” Brandenburg said.
Nelson is sponsoring a separate bill to require a Public Service Commission study of the siting of wind farms.
During House debate Friday, Nelson said it was impractical to expect farmers on whose land the wind towers are placed to take them down once they quit producing electricity.
“Stand under one of those things one time, and see how large they are,” Nelson said. “If you think a farmer and a landowner is going to be able to dismantle one of those things when they’re not in use – it’s a big project.”
He compared the issue to the beginnings of land reclamation requirements for the lignite coal industry. In western North Dakota’s coal country, it is still possible to see “spoil piles” on land that was mined before reclamation laws took effect, he said.
“There’s situations in California where these (wind towers) aren’t being used, and it’s an eyesore around the countryside,” he said.
The wind farm decommissioning bill is HB1363. The Public Service Commission wind farm siting study bill is HB1456.
By Dale Wetzel
Associated Press Writer
10 February 2007
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding