Environmental: Legislative Update on Green Energy Bills

08.02.10

As reported in our March, 2010 Newsletter, the Oklahoma Legislature considered several green energy bills in its 2010 session. Two of those bills passed and were signed into law by Governor Henry. Both are for the primary benefit of landowners.

SB1787 amends the Oklahoma Airspace Act, 60 O.S. 2001, §801 et seq. It restricts the severing from the surface estate of airspace above wind and solar projects, and requires that developers of commercial wind and solar projects may lease airspace only from the surface owner in accordance with the requirements of the Act. This bill took effect July 1, 2010.

HB2973 creates the Oklahoma Wind Energy Development Act (codified at 17 O.S. §§ 160.11-160.19), which mandates that the owner of a wind turbine or wind energy facility shall be responsible for decommissioning the facility at the end of its useful life. Enforcement of the Act is placed under the jurisdiction of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. To ensure that decommissioning occurs, the Act requires that, after fifteen years of operation, the owner of the facility shall file with the Corporation Commission evidence of financial security to cover the estimated costs of decommissioning the wind energy facility. Failure to file with the Corporation Commission will subject the owner to an administrative penalty not to exceed $1,500.00 per day. The amount of financial security must be either the estimated total cost of decommissioning minus salvage value (as estimated by a licensed professional engineer in the fifteenth year of the project and every ten years thereafter), or 125% of the estimated total cost of decommissioning estimated in the fifteenth year of the project. The evidence of financial security must be in the form of a surety bond, collateral bond, parent guaranty, or letter of credit. In addition to the financial security provisions, the bill also requires the owner to take the following additional steps: make disclosures to the landowner regarding electrical output from the facility where the rental to the landowner is based on electrical output; make available to the landowner operating records supporting the electrical output calculation; file generating reports annually with the Corporation Commission; and obtain general liability insurance on the operation of the facility in an amount consistent with prevailing industry standards, naming the landowner as an additional insured. The Corporation Commission is authorized to promulgate rules as necessary to implement the provisions of the Act. This bill takes effect January 1, 2011.

By William C. Anderson, wanderson@dsda.com

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Rebecca D. Bullard

Rebecca D. Bullard

Rebecca represents clients primarily in labor and employment litigation and counsels clients regarding everyday employment matters. 

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