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Oklahoma Senate’s Energy Committee sends wind-related bills along

Several wind energy-related bills proposed by lawmakers worked their way through the Oklahoma Senate’s Energy Committee on Thursday, although senators sponsoring two of the measures stripped them of their ability to become law, for now.

Senate Bill 904, authored by Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, would tweak language Oklahoma’s Legislature approved in 2018 that sets up procedures wind farm developers and regulators must follow to make sure proposed farms don’t interfere with military training routes.

Pugh said Thursday the pending measure would move some of the responsibilities for the process from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission.

Pugh said the bill “is still a work in progress” and noted he hopes to visit with all concerned parties.

“This is not an anti-wind bill. I am a military veteran who went to flight training and flew the missions that we are trying to protect in this piece of legislation,” Pugh said.

“If you have ever been on an airplane with a pilot in training that needs to fly at 500 feet above the ground to execute the training mission that they are going to go fight the bad guys with, we need to make sure they can do it in an environment that is safe. It has nothing to do with any particular industry. It has to do with men and women who are going to put themselves in harm’s way.”

The measure, which must have its title restored before becoming law, was sent to the Senate floor without opposition.

Another measure that received considerable attention Thursday was Senate Bill 1004, authored by Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro, the committee’s chairman.

The measure, which deals with statute that addresses the decommissioning of wind farms, proposes adding language that would require a wind farm owner to remove any materials that can’t be recycled from Oklahoma within 90 days after a farm is completely decommissioned. It also proposes fining wind farm owners $500 daily if they either fail to complete a wind farm decommissioning process in 12 months’ time, or, fail to meet the 90-day deadline to remove non-recyclable materials.

Allen removed the bill’s title after getting numerous questions from committee members about what materials would have to be removed and whether allowing only 90 days was adequate.

Allen said his proposal aims to reduce the potential Oklahoma could see future wind farm bone yards, like drilling rigs that were idled in the late 1980s and early 1990s during the height of the oil bust.

“I am looking to protect the state from any future environmental hazards,” Allen said.

Committee members cleared it to be heard by the Senate by an 8 to 3 vote.

One wind-related bill that didn’t attract much discussion Thursday was Senate Bill 964, authored by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow.

The measure, if made law, would modify wind developers’ time requirement to notify some authorities, hold public meetings for neighboring land owners and notify impacted oil and gas operators of planned projects to within 90 days after notifying the Oklahoma Corporation Commission of its plans.

“We want to make sure that our military members, the wind industry and all the stakeholders have adequate time to review” proposed projects, Dahm said.

The bill cleared the committee without opposition.