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Oklahoma Senate passes moratorium on wind farms in eastern Oklahoma

Senators voted 32-8 to pass Senate Bill 1440, which would halt wind developments east of Interstate 35 until 2017 in areas that have poor wind resources. Lobbyists for the wind industry said the bill could harm developments statewide and interferes with private leasing contracts.
by Paul Monies Published: March 12, 2014

A moratorium on wind farms in the eastern half of the state passed Wednesday in the Oklahoma Senate.

Senate Bill 1440, by Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, passed 32-8 after no debate.

The bill places a moratorium on new wind farm developments east of Interstate 35 until 2017. It limits the moratorium to those areas where the wind potential is less than fair, according to a 2008 map by the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Sen. Rick Brinkley, R-Owasso, presented the bill for Bingman. Brinkley said the bill was met “by a little bit of opposition” and is still a work in progress.

“Many of the parties involved are very eager to sit down and have a conversation about this,” Brinkley said. “The pro tem is committed to making sure we get all those voices at the table before we do anything with this legislation.”

The bill was stripped of its title, giving lawmakers more flexibility to make changes. It now heads to the House, where its sponsor is Rep. Earl Sears, R- Bartlesville.

Local property dispute

While the proposed moratorium would affect a large part of eastern Oklahoma, the bill has its roots in a property dispute between large landowners in Craig County, where EDP Renewables North America plans a wind farm.

The Oklahoma Property Rights Association, a group of 50 landowners led by rancher and commercial real estate owner Frank C. Robson, wants some limits on turbine development in northeastern Oklahoma.

Robson said Wednesday he was pleased the bill passed the Senate, although he questioned why EDP Renewables would want to build a wind farm in Craig County.

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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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