Oklahoma has undergone a significant legislative overhaul over the course of the last year to help advance its agenda of encouraging the development of renewable energy projects within the state. A few of the most important legislative measures for project developers are as follows:
- Oklahoma has established a voluntary Renewable Energy Standard (17 Okla. Stat. 801.1 et seq.), which calls for 15% of the total installed generation capacity in Oklahoma to be derived from renewable sources, including wind, by 2015. Energy efficiency may be used to meet up to 25% of the goal. For a primer on RES standards in the United States, see my post on the issue.
- Oklahoma has passed SB 1787, codified as 60 Okla. Stat. 820.1 et seq., which states that access to the airspace is tied to the ownership of the land. Thus, any wind or solar leasing arrangements associated with the airspace must be made with the landowner that owns the land below the air.
- Oklahoma also recently passed HB 2973, codified as 17 Okla. Stat. 160.11 et seq., known as The Oklahoma Wind Energy Development Act. This act specifies that, rather than utilizing a system of Renewable Energy Credits to track compliance with the state RES, each utility in Oklahoma must file a report with the OCC each year by March 1 which documents the total installed capacity and the energy source for each generation facilities, as well as the number of kilowatt-hours (kWh) generated by those facilities during the prior year.
The Oklahoma Wind Energy Development Act also provides rules related to decommissioning, payments, and insurance for wind projects, went into effect on January 1, 2011. A few of the most significant provisions are as follows:
- Equipment from wind energy facilities must be removed and the land, excluding roads, must be returned to its condition prior to the facility construction within one year of abandonment of a project.
- Wind facility owners must file an estimate of the decommissioning costs and proof of financial security covering such costs after 15 years of operation.
- For any wind energy facility that makes payments to the landowner dependent upon the amount of electricity produced, facility owners are required, within to provide a statement to the landowner within 10 business days of the payment which explains the payment calculation to the landowner, allow for landowners to confirm the accuracy of payments and inspect records, and make records available to the state of Oklahoma.
- The developer shall report to the OCC on an annual basis by March 1 of each calendar year the power generated from the facility, the nameplate capacity of the turbines, and the location of the wind turbines.
- Wind energy facilities must have commercial general liability insurance, which must name the landowner as an insured party. Proof of such insurance must be provided to the landowner before construction begins.