The Oklahoma Corporation Commission is embarking on a process that likely will tweak its wind development rules as it seeks to implement a new law that harnesses the state’s wind power to support the military.
The law, approved by Oklahoma’s Legislature and Gov. Kevin Stitt, clarifies processes wind farm developers in Oklahoma must follow to ensure needed federal approvals to protect low-level military training areas are obtained before construction on those projects can begin.
Those needed federal approvals must be provided by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Military Aviation and Installation Assurance Siting Clearinghouse.
The law sets out a process that developers now are required to follow with state agencies to get those approvals and sets a hefty fine of up to $1,500 a day (per tower or other structure) for developers who violate the requirement.
“What this does is ensure everyone is communicating,” Grayson Ardies, deputy director of the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission, said earlier this year when the governor signed the bill.
An email sent out Monday by Jeff Kline, a deputy general counsel at the corporation commission, stated the agency’s Public Utility Division intends to hold industry meetings to discuss the updated guidelines.
Kline’s email stated the division also may initiate rulemaking proceedings concerning new compliance requirements.
On Monday, Brandy Wreath, director of the commission’s Public Utility Division, said discussions with industry representatives are desired to be sure everyone understands the new requirements before the division seeks to clean up wind-related language in the commission’s rules.
“We don’t expect this to be too dramatic, but there will still be things we need to look at to be sure” the rules comply with the new law, Wreath said.
The new law requires wind developers to make duplicate filings of information they provide to the FAA when seeking no-flight-hazard determinations from that agency to the corporation commission and aeronautics commission, and to make additional filings with both if they submit updated plans to the FAA that changes turbine locations or heights.
The law also requires the aeronautics commission to notify the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission of proposed wind project plans so that it, in turn, can notify local base commanders and the clearinghouse of those plans.
The strategic military planning commission also is required to provide copies of notification letters it sends to the clearinghouse about pending wind farm plans to the aeronautics commission and wind energy developer, in addition to the corporation commission.
And, the law requires developers to file federal approvals with both the aeronautics and corporation commissions.
Officials have said the updated language seeks to address a myriad of headaches wind farm project developers and regulators have encountered the past several years as continued industry growth impacted low-level military training areas in Oklahoma that bases here and in surrounding states historically had used.