North Dakota Senator Seeks Two-Year Ban On Wind Development

Posted by Betsy Lillian on February 21, 2017 No Comments
Categories : Featured, Policy Watch

Under a bill recently passed by the state’s Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, a North Dakota lawmaker is seeking a two-year moratorium on wind power development.

State Sen. Dwight Cook, R-District 34, added an amendment on wind power to S.B.2314, which, according to the text of the bill, relates to “energy rates and resources and renewable energy production.” Specifically, the original bill proposes that North Dakota’s public service commission “supervise the rates of all public utilities.”

Cook’s new amendment seeks to “amend and reenact sections 17-04-01, 17-04-03, and 17-04-05 of the North Dakota Century Code, relating to termination of wind option agreements, wind easements and wind energy leases.” The amendment was co-sponsored by eight other Republican lawmakers.

According to a report from ND xPlains, S.B.2314 was “basically dead on arrival” after having been fought by energy companies. However, with Cook’s “hog-house amendment” to the bill, the legislation was passed 4-3 by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Notably, the Associated Press says, the legislation will not be open for public comment because hearings already took place on the original legislation. (Essentially, a hog-house amendment can completely rewrite an original measure.)

The senator told the AP that the shutdown of several coal plants in the state is one of the reasons he proposed the amendment: “Coal plants are shutting down, and my assumption is wind generation has something to do with it.” He added that wind is also offered “more favorable tax incentives and less onerous regulations than coal factories,” the report explains.

According to data from the American Wind Energy Association, wind power generated more 20.1% of North Dakota’s electricity, on average, from November 2015 to October 2016. The state joins only Kansas, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Iowa in the “20 percent and up” club.

Recently, ALLETE Clean Energy announced plans to expand the state’s Thunder Spirit Wind project from 107.5 MW to 150 MW. In November, Xcel Energy powered up its 200 MW Courtenay Wind Farm in North Dakota; Xcel also added the 150 MW Border Winds Farm in Rolette County to its wind energy fleet at the end of 2015.

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