OCC Addresses Controversial Wind Turbine Construction

Tuesday, September 18th 2018, 6:11 pm
By: Karl Torp

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission heard concerns Tuesday about a wind farm near the town of Hinton.

NextEra is building more than 160 turbines, and many neighbors say they are do it illegally.

“The law is very clear,” said attorney Kim Spady, who represents some neighbors from Hinton.

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Spady points to the new law which took effect in May.

It states a wind developer must obtain what's called a "no hazard" determination for each turbine from the Federal Aviation Administration or work out a mitigation plan with the Department of Defense and submit notification to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

“They would be okay if they were building the turbines they filed for in 2016, but those aren't the turbines they are building,” said Spady, who says NextEra has already completed 36 of the planned turbines.

After hearing concerns, including how the turbines could affect military training routes, The Oklahoma Corporation Commission addressed the issue at a meeting Tuesday.

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Commissioner Todd Hiett called it the start of the exploratory phase.

“As part of the wind development act, I believe we do have some oversight ability to these projects,” said Commissioner Hiett.

OCC's Public Utility Division feels the NextEra's paperwork filed in 2016 is still good for the turbines being built now, even if their locations have slightly changed.

NextEra’s attorney says the determination for “no hazard” was renewed through April 2019.

The three Commissioners can trump what OCC's Public Utility Division has concluded.

Meanwhile, NextEra moves forward with construction.

“I don’t know why the Corporation Commission is reluctant to enforce this law,” said Spady.