Advocates for protecting low-level military training routes throughout Oklahoma from potential encroachment from wind farms scored a major victory Wednesday after lawmakers passed legislation that state and local officials, the wind industry and military leaders had been hashing out since last year. The goal of the discussions was to balance the needs of the wind energy with military flight training by letting developers know where they can build without creating a conflict with military operations. Oklahoma has become one of the leading states for wind energy generation over the past decade.
The legislation, which cleared the Oklahoma Senate Wednesday by a 45-0 vote, “prohibits construction or operation of a wind energy facility, or facility expansion, from encroaching upon or having a significant adverse impact on the mission, training or operations of any military installation or branch,” reported the Enid News & Eagle. House Bill 3561 requires agreement from the military for any planned turbine construction or an approved mitigation plan from the DOD Siting Clearinghouse “before a wind energy facility may be constructed or expanded.” It protects military training routes, approaches and departures at military airfields, bombing ranges and drop zones.
“This legislation goes a long way toward protecting and enhancing our number one asset, which is our airspace,” Mike Cooper, military liaison for the city of Enid and chairman of the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission, told the paper. “It wasn’t about having no wind power. It was about protecting our airspace.”
The bill advanced in the House 91-1 on March 12. Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is expected to sign it into law shortly.
Photo by Michael Zamora