To Lasso the Wind

By Morgan Dodd

Sometimes it seems like we hear far too much negativity in the press about Oklahoma. One area where that seems far from the case is, as ever, energy. Except that more and more, it is not only oil and gas but also alternative forms of energy, especially wind power.

This is a fast-changing industry, but it is one that Oklahoma is at the center of. The reasons for this include some usual suspects. First, Oklahoma is in the middle of the plains, which is some of America’s windiest terrain, making it fertile ground for capturing wind energy. Western Oklahoma has also been some of our state’s most rural land, often used as farmland with large plots of land owned by a small number of owners. These factors work together to make that area one of Oklahoma’s—and America’s—biggest sources of wind power, as the map below shows.

(Map courtesy of the American Wind Energy Association[1])

However, one factor that you might not think of that is helping our growing wind industry along is our own state government. Wind power generation involves turbines the size of 10-story buildings, proper handling of the electricity, and good relations between wind power companies and landowners, not to mention the rest of the citizenry. To get a jump on this, Oklahoma’s legislature passed the Oklahoma Wind Energy Act[2] in 2010.

That Act did something very crucial. Have you ever passed by a large wind farm and wondered ‘What will happen when this is gone and this company is done with this wind farm?’ Well, luckily the legislature did, and it passed rules on decommissioning, requiring security so that wind farm operators prove that they can successfully dismantle their operations when they are done, and in doing so it blazed a trail for the rest of the nation to follow.[3] This helps keep Oklahoma’s landscape beautiful.

What is also exciting is that wind power can be good for many in Oklahoma. First, everyone benefits by having an additional source of power available. Next, wind power companies will gain by selling this power, and we can all hope that they will be based in Oklahoma more and more. Further, the landowners—on whose land these turbines sit—reap the rewards of valuable income.

Moreover, everyone has a role to play with wind power as well. First, the wind power companies use the latest cutting-edge science to use the wind more efficiently. Second, not only do the landowners supply the land, without which this would not be possible, but they also live with these turbines on a daily basis. The landowners are the eyes and ears on the ground and let the rest of us know what is working well and what is not as they see it. Third, our government (hopefully) listens to everyone involved and takes necessary steps to protect the land and the people. Last, and admittedly least, attorneys like myself attempt to guide you and advise you through the issues and regulatory hurdles involved. 

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[1] AWEA releases map of every wind farm and factory in America, American Wind Energy Association (2017), (last visited Nov 16, 2017).

[2] OKLA. STAT. ANN. tit. 17, § 160.11 (West 2011).

[3] William S. Stripling, Wind Energy's Dirty Word: Decommissioning, 95 Texas Law Review 123–151,

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