Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Not Created Equal: Petroleum Rules Can Give Guidance for Wind, but Won't Always Apply

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Not Created Equal: Petroleum Rules Can Give Guidance for Wind, but Won't Always Apply

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - The expanding wind energy industry could learn a few lessons from oil and gas when it comes to developing regulations, some energy attorneys said.

Many people want a regulatory agency to address noise, proximity of large turbines to homes and schools, and property owners' right to know if a large wind farm is being built nearby.

Energy attorneys agreed it's not appropriate to directly compare the two industries. However, some issues like landowner notification and compensation could benefit from similar rules, said Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy.

"Oil and gas regulations can be used as a concept used in helping craft or create potential regulations for the wind industry," she said.

Dozens of landowners attended a Sept. 11 meeting at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission about wind regulations. Several, including some who support and some who oppose the industry, asked the agency to create rules for wind turbines similar to those for oil and gas wells. Members of the public requested established setback limits from houses, notification if a wind farm will be constructed nearby, and limits on noise, among other things.

The OCC regulates only the decommissioning of wind farms. The Legislature has not given it the authority to create rules for the wind industry. The Sept. 11 meeting was one of a series held at the request of Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa. The meeting series is intended to answer landowners' questions as well as create guidelines in case the Legislature gives the OCC authority to regulate wind farms.

Landowners in central Oklahoma are so upset about the wind farms recently constructed in Canadian and Kingfisher counties that a dozen have filed a lawsuit. Several chose not to lease their land for turbines, but their neighbors did.

The result is dozens of large turbines less than a mile from rural homes. Those people shouldn't look to the petroleum rules for guidance, Murphy said. Though oil and gas rules do have setback requirements, those statutes weren't established to keep wells away from homes or other buildings, Murphy said. They were meant to prevent operators from drilling too close to other wells, draining the reservoir to which another operator had the rights. …

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