Legislation to protect military airspace from encroachment by wind turbine development is on its way to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk after being unanimously approved by the state Legislature.
We applaud lawmakers for passing House Bill 2118 and hope Stitt signs it into law quickly.
The military makes up a tremendous part of Oklahoma’s economy. In a 2011 report by Oklahoma Department of Commerce and Oklahoma 21st Century Foundation, the state’s five military installations had a total impact of $9.611 billion statewide in fiscal year 2010.
That was about 7.2% of the state’s economy.
Vance Air Force Base contributed $250.1 million to the state’s economy, according to the report.
Without a doubt, anything that hurts any of the military bases hurts Oklahoma as a whole.
Try to imagine Enid’s economy without Vance, or Altus without Altus AFB, the Oklahoma City area without Tinker AFB. That’s why this legislation is so important.
HB 2118 creates setback requirements for wind turbine construction to be clear of military training routes, runway approaches, drop zones and bombing ranges.
It is the latest in a string of legislation passed since 2017.
House Bill 3561, passed last March, prohibited “construction or operation of a wind energy facility, or facility expansion, from encroaching upon or having a significant adverse impact on the mission, training or operations of any military installation or branch.”
Senate Bill 1576, passed unanimously last April, added minor changes to HB 3561, and required agreement from the military for any planned turbine construction or an approved mitigation plan from the Department of Defense Siting Clearinghouse before a wind energy facility may be constructed or expanded.
HB 2118 expands the requirements for wind turbine developers to have approval from both the FAA and Department of Defense, and requires any new construction “not encroach upon or otherwise have a significant adverse impact on the mission, training or operations of any military installation or branch of military as determined by the Military Aviation and Installation Assurance Siting Clearinghouse and the FAA.”
Mike Cooper, city of Enid military liaison and chairman of Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission, said the legislation is “a good, easy legislation – it’s not a heavy permitting legislation, it’s just a good way to balance the needs of the wind industry with the needs of the military.”
That’s a key part of HB 2118. It doesn’t put onerous requirements on the wind industry, which also is an important player in Oklahoma’s economy.
Military needs can coexist with the wind industry in Oklahoma. HB 2118 helps ensure that.