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Senator Bolin gives lone “Nay” to state-land wind farm lease bill

Even after a relatively easy sail, bills can still have opponents.

House Bill 1031 was first read in the House, Jan. 8. The House Commerce and Energy Committee passed it forward, Jan. 14, with the full House passing it further the next day. The Senate Commerce and Energy Committee made minor amendments, then also passed it. On Jan. 24, the full Senate voted to send it to the Governor’s desk.

The last vote was all “Yea,” except for one “Nay.”

That no vote came from Senator Jim Bolin (R-Canton).

“Wind power is a sensitive subject in southern Lincoln County,” Bolin said. “The subject has many concerns. About two years ago, there were efforts to bring wind towers to my district. Many objected. The county commissioners set very strong setbacks, and the industry wanted smaller setbacks for the towers. Votes were taken, and the commissioners maintained these setbacks. I am not against wind energy, but it is a very intense, localized issue in my district.”

The bill is a clarification of various other laws, many found in different locations of the state’s codified law. It was summarized by Ryan Brunner, Commissioner of the Office of School and Public Lands. The office does currently issue wind/solar leases or easements, “but it is a complicated web of agreements because different components of a wind agreement occur in different areas of state law with different rules,” Brunner said. “For example, right now the statutes to get a wind easement are in one section of law, but to build the transmission line across school land is in a different section with different rules. To build a road to the wind turbine is in another section and to build the common carrier transmission lines that go to an end user are in yet another area.”