Articles filed under Energy Policy from Oklahoma
I’ve spent a portion of the past decade engaged in various efforts to encourage development of alternative energy resources in Arkansas, motivated by two factors – a belief that climate change is real and must be addressed and a desire to position Arkansas to capture a big chunk of the trillions of dollars that will be spent solving this problem.
The fossil fuel and renewable power industries have fought a low-grade conflict for years, maneuvering in state capitols and Congress to gain advantage in tax and energy policies that might increase or protect market share.
The nation's biggest wind generator, NextEra Energy Resources, has bought the Oklahoma portion of the proposed 700-mile-long Plains and Eastern Line to serve Oklahoma and Midwest customers. But for now, plans to bring wind energy from the windy areas of Oklahoma and Texas into the less-windy Tennessee Valley and Southeastern part of the United States are stalled and unlikely to be resurrected for years.
Oklahoma lawmakers are considering a bill that would require new wind farms to get approval from the aeronautics commission, which is pushing for more oversight. Another proposal would require the state's military commission to sign off before new wind farms break ground.
OKLAHOMA CITY — Legislation that rolls back a state tax credit for the wind energy industry has been approved by an Oklahoma Senate panel.
Oklahoma wind developers are fresh off a record-setting year. Only Texas installed more wind capacity in 2016, a fact that thrusts the Sooner State's power markets into a sudden transition and is agitating opponents along the way.
Thanks to a suite of overgenerous tax subsidies to fund wind farm construction, our state pays out more than $200 million per year to wind company owners. Without a production tax on the energy created, the tax dollars those companies take to send their power out of state comes from the tax dollars of average Oklahomans.
“Basically this decision says that Washington, D.C., knows more than the people of Arkansas do about whether to build across the state giant, unsightly transmission towers to carry a comparatively expensive, unreliable source of electricity to the Southeast where utilities may not need the electricity. This is the first time federal law has been used to override a state's objections to using eminent domain for siting electric transmission lines. It is absolutely the wrong policy.”
Senate Bill 498 by state Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, and Sears, signed May 20, repeals the ability of the wind industry to qualify for a five-year property tax exemption. This provides a good start in addressing the magnitude of industrial wind’s subsidies and negative impact on Oklahoma’s budget.
A bill to place new restrictions on the growing wind industry in Oklahoma has passed a House Committee.
Rep. Earl Sears says he will sponsor legislation that would put regulations on the wind industry. ...proposed regulations will contain three key elements: siting and setbacks regarding location of wind farms; decommissioning; and public hearings that would allow residents of communities near planned wind farm projects to express their views.
“We don’t have enough regulations in rural areas in regards to where these[wind] farms are going,” Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville. “It’s imperative we put some in place, not only for the benefit of the wind power, but for the people who have to be around them. Let there be no doubt: The state Legislature is absolutely going to send some legislation forward putting rules and regulations in place."
Representatives of Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. and Public Service Co. of Oklahoma said the surcharge is needed to recover some of the infrastructure costs ...The representatives said utilities need the new surcharge to prevent customers who can’t afford the installation costs of distributed generation from subsidizing customers who have the systems installed.
Wyrick said his bill was a request from several constituents in his district in the northeast part of the state. The bill was an attempt to start a conversation as wind farm developments move closer to populated areas and outside the western half of the state where the wind potential is greater, he said. “It was kind of a surprise to me that there were proposals to move those fields of wind energy that far east,” Wyrick said. “When the people that I represent directly have concerns, then I have concerns.
The Oklahoma Senate Energy Committee heard from wind development opponents and supporters and moved along legislation that would strengthen existing law for the decommissioning of wind turbines and add permitting requirements at the local level. ...Tammy Huffstutlar now has 11 turbines nearby. "The flicker turns formerly pleasant sunrises and sunsets into nausea-filled bouts of vertigo. The audible noise from the turbines makes our outdoor activities tension-filled periods, which are cut short to minimize the unpleasant experience.”
Huffstutlar's farm is now surrounded by the Canadian Hills Wind Farm. The couple hates the turbines: the way they look, sound and make them feel. The Huffstutlars say it's impossible to hide from the 400-foot turbines on their neighbor's land - even inside the house. Tammy says they've had to add blackout shades to several rooms to block the strobing effect of the shadow flicker that flashes through the windows.
More than 1,100 megawatts of wind power capacity came online last year in the state. Much of it was driven by a rush of projects spawned by uncertainty over the expiration of a crucial federal tax credit for electricity generated from renewable energy. Congress then extended the wind production tax credit until the end of 2013.
Hardly a week goes by without the American Bird Conservancy sending me a press release about birds being killed at wind farms, a problem in the pursuit of clean energy. Yet the biggest bird mortality event of the past two years was the oil spill that resulted from the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon: More than 6,000 dead birds were recovered. So when does the environmental drawback of bird mortality trump a wind farm's benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions?
We're not opposed to new energies, just the notion that taxpayers - and, potentially, a huge pool of rate payers - must subsidize their viability. Congress needs a thorough debate on this issue as well as other attempts to implement green and global warming policy through federal regulatory agencies.
It often seems as if the wind never stops blowing in Oklahoma.