NextEra Energy Receives Cease And Desist Order After Violating OK Law

Friday, August 31st 2018, 6:30 pm

State leaders have formally notified Florida-based NextEra Energy that the company's recent construction of nearly two dozen wind turbines in Canadian County violates a new state law.

In a letter signed by both Strategic Military Planning Commission Chairman Mike Cooper and Aeronautics Commission Director Victor Bird, NextEra is ordered to "cease and desist immediately the construction on any and all turbines associated with the Minco IV/V windfarm" until the necessary approvals are filed with the Corporation Commission.

Determined to protect what many in Oklahoma believe is the state's most significant military asset -- open air space -- lawmakers overwhelmingly approved legislation last session putting more stringent requirements in place for wind farm developers.

Read Related Story: Florida Based Energy Company Violates New Law

The law mandates that developers obtain either a "no hazard" determination for each turbine from the Federal Aviation Administration or work out a mitigation plan with the Department of Defense, and then submit notification of such with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission before construction may begin.

"The only exception to this requirement," the letter states, "is if the Determination of No Hazard or approved mitigation plan was obtained prior to the effective date of SB 1576, which did not occur for these turbines."

The law took effect May 2.

NextEra Energy, which already has more than a dozen wind projects in the state, filed obstruction evaluation cases for 175 new turbines in Canadian and Caddo Counties with the FAA on March 23, 2018. As of August 31, the FAA had yet to issue determinations on any of them.

"This proposal has not yet been studied," reads the post on each case. "Study outcomes will be posted at a later date."

NextEra Energy has yet to respond to multiple requests for comment from News 9.

It's not yet clear whether NextEra could face punitive action for erecting turbines without proper authorization. On Thursday, the chief of the Oklahoma Attorney General's Utility Regulation Unit, Jared Haines, sent a letter to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission's Public Utility Division (PUD), urging them "to investigate these serious allegations and to bring an enforcement action against NextEra for any violations discovered as a result of the investigation."

In the letter, Haines said NextEra could "liable for millions of dollars in fines."

A spokesman for the Corporation Commission could not confirm whether PUD would initiate an investigation, as requested, saying the AG's letter is being reviewed by OCC's legal staff.


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