Wind farm developers in Oklahoma will need to add an extra step to the development process under a new state law designed to limit conflicts with military flight training, but the head of an industry group says his members support the change. “At the end of the day, the Wind Coalition worked with the Legislature and the military to find an amenable, reasonable solution,” Mark Yates, Oklahoma director of the Wind Coalition, told the Oklahoman. “We believe the process will be efficient enough that it won’t impair future development,” Yates said.
House Bill 3561, signed into law by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) in April, is intended to protect low-level military training routes throughout Oklahoma from potential encroachment from wind farms by ensuring developers and base officials talk early in the planning process. It requires developers to notify the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission of their plans and for the commission then to notify local base commanders about the project. The commission then is required to submit a letter to DOD’s Military Aviation and Installation Assurance Siting Clearinghouse outlining potential areas of impact.
Creating a role for commission in the planning process was intended to speed reviews of wind projects and ensure there’s complete communication between developers and local military officials, said Mike Cooper, the commission’s chairman. “We want them to build, but we don’t want them to build in a spot where it would impact a base’s mission capability,” Cooper said.
Photo by Tom Corser