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Also hustled through the committee process Wednesday were a number of bills that would repeal tax incentives granted to the wind-energy industry over the years. In most cases, the bills would accelerate the expiration date to July 1 for incentives that were set to expire in four years.
An Oklahoma wind project in Canadian and Kingfisher County will not be completed by its deadline, according to an Apex Clean Line Energy official. Apex spokeswoman Davhi Wilson said construction with the Kingfisher Wind facility is ongoing, even though it was scheduled to be completed before the end of 2015.
Tradewind is prepared to proceed with construction of Mustang Run even though an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling is still pending. Completion of the project in 2016 would allow it to receive some significant state tax credits that are scheduled to expire at the end of next year.
Oklahoma may be the next state to remove incentives for renewable energy within the state. Senate Bill (SB) 498 would eliminate the state tax exemption for wind electricity manufacturers after 2016.
A House committee Tuesday passed Senate Bill 808 by a vote of 12-8. The bill would stop wind turbines being within 1.5 nautical miles of an airport, public school or hospital and put additional financial reporting requirements on wind developers for decommissioning old wind farms.
Oklahoma has quietly become the 4th largest wind producing state in America after jumping several states in the rankings over the past few years. The panhandle and the northeastern part of the state have been seen as promising areas for further development, with strong winds and nearby transmission lines that enable cheap, clean electricity.
Measures that would modify tax incentives for future wind farms in Oklahoma have been approved by the state Senate.
The House Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 11-2 on Tuesday for House Bill 1549, which would restrict how close giant wind turbines can be built near airports, hospitals and schools, and to require wind energy producers to notify nearby property owners before construction. The bill also requires a public hearing to be held prior to a wind turbine being installed.
Apex Clean Energy said Thursday it will sell a 298-megawatt wind farm under construction in Kingfisher and Canadian counties to a private equity firm. ...Landowners and the Oklahoma Wind Action Association sued Apex last year, claiming the Kingfisher wind farm would threaten their health and safety. \
The limestone underneath the surface had been crushed and piled around the wind turbine foundation. The Osage Nation owns all the minerals under the surface to make up the Osage Minerals Estate. Without a Sandy Soil Permit granted from the Osage Agency, construction cannot proceed.
Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear filed a complaint with the Bureau of Indian Affairs on Monday, alleging that the company actively building a wind farm west of Pawhuska might be crushing limestone excavated from the area and using it in wind turbine foundations. ...‘They are using our rock for their business. That requires a permit and it requires an environmental assessment, and that’s that,” Standing Bear said. “if this company believes the rules don’t apply to them, then we have a real problem on our hands.”
But, as states such as Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas are discovering, there is no such thing as free electricity – in addition to the financial costs, there are political and environmental costs associated with even the most renewable sources. And politicians are beginning to see the truth that executives of renewable energy companies are just as invested in the success of their corporations as those who run coal companies. The struggle for that kind of power will go on no matter what source of energy the politicians back next.
In a letter dated Sept. 29, Standing Bear informed Osage Agency Superintendent Robin Phillips about a report his office received alleging “an unauthorized taking of Osage minerals” from northwestern Osage County land that is being leased for the proposed project by TradeWinds Energy.
Today, many of the same political leaders who initially welcomed the wind industry want to regulate it more tightly, even in red states like Oklahoma, where candidates regularly rail against government interference. The change of heart is happening as wind farms creep closer to more heavily populated areas.
After more than a decade of rapid growth in Oklahoma, the wind industry is like a teenager that might need some guidance as its developments grow closer to populated areas and conflicts arise. That was among the opinions offered Thursday at a packed meeting at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to study wind farm siting, notification of landowners and decommissioning.
The lawsuit was brought against Apex Clean Energy Inc., Apex Clean Energy Holdings LLC, Kingfisher Wind LLC, Kingfisher Wind Land Holdings LLC, Kingfisher Transmission LLC, Campbell Creek Wind LLC and Campbell Creek Wind Transmission LLC. The plaintiffs all live within three miles of the planned wind farm and own property within the “no-build” zone of the planned locations of the wind turbines, the suit says.
The Osage Agency’s Bureau of Indian Affairs Superintendent says the office did not approve a wind farm ordinance recently established in Osage County and any wind turbine built “may have to be removed or relocated” if it interferes with the minerals estate.
Oklahoma is the nation's fourth-largest generator of wind energy. But wind developers in the northeast corner of the state, where the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve lies, are up against stiff opposition from an unlikely pair of allies: environmentalists and oil interests.
The fact-finding process was requested by Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, after several pieces of legislation related to wind farms failed to advance through the Legislature.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission voted to open a notice of inquiry into wind farms. Two technical conferences to further refine questions are scheduled for Sept. 11 and Oct. 15. A hearing before the commission is set for Dec. 2. The text of the notice is provided below. The full document can be accessed by clicking the links on this page.