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Oklahoma Corporation Commission gets ready for public input on wind, solar issues

by Paul Monies Modified: July 12, 2014 at 10:00 am •  Published: July 12, 2014
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photo - FILE-- This April 21, 2008, file photo shows wind turbines at the Harvest Wind Farm in Oliver Township, Mich. State officials say Michigan is positioned to require more of its electricity to come from wind and other renewable sources. Existing law sets a 10 percent target that must be met in 2015. Michigan officials will assess the impact on the state when President Barack Obama on Monday, June 2, 2014, announces tougher new air quality standards affecting coal-fired power plants. Coal produces about 55 percent of the electricity in the state while natural gas produces 11 percent. (AP Photo/Al Goldis, File)
FILE-- This April 21, 2008, file photo shows wind turbines at the Harvest Wind Farm in Oliver Township, Mich. State officials say Michigan is positioned to require more of its electricity to come from wind and other renewable sources. Existing law sets a 10 percent target that must be met in 2015. Michigan officials will assess the impact on the state when President Barack Obama on Monday, June 2, 2014, announces tougher new air quality standards affecting coal-fired power plants. Coal produces about 55 percent of the electricity in the state while natural gas produces 11 percent. (AP Photo/Al Goldis, File)

Oklahomans interested in the placement of wind farms and the upcoming regulation of rooftop solar panel customers will get a chance to weigh in on those issues soon at the Corporation Commission.

Staff for the commission’s public utility division held the second of two pre-meetings Friday for an upcoming notice of inquiry on wind and solar issues. The first meeting on Wednesday involved wind developers, while Friday’s meeting brought in landowners.

Among the issues to be discussed are what kinds of notification landowners near wind farms should get before projects start, as well as how to strengthen Oklahoma’s existing law for the decommissioning of wind farms. Other concerns include the effects on wildlife, property values and the economic benefits of wind farm development.

The notice of inquiry is expected to be filed within the next couple of weeks and will set out a series of technical conferences and public meetings to gather information for the commission. It was requested by Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, after several wind-related bills failed to advance in this year’s Legislature.

Brandy Wreath, director of the public utility division, told meeting participants the notice of inquiry is a good venue for deciding which issues are important, but it has limitations. Some issues, such as state tax incentives for wind generation, fall under the jurisdiction of the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

“We’re hoping to take lots of comments, answer questions and fine-tune those questions at the technical conferences,” Wreath said. “The end result will be recommendations to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. This (notice of inquiry) process will not end in rules, it will not end in statutory changes and will not end in cases (filed at the commission.)”

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by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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