Legislative Update - APRIL 2017

The 2017 Legislative Session adjourned on April 25, 2017. The session was challenging for private property development and local decision-making by bills that included an “anti-wind” element.  Most of these bills were opposed by the North Dakota utilities that provide power to businesses and consumers, and who support a diverse energy supply including wind.  A growing coalition of landowners, local elected officials, and private businesses who work in the energy arena and businesses that benefit from stable, reasonably priced energy helped educate legislators about the importance of wind as part of an all-of-the-above energy strategy.

Eight of these bills are summarized below.  We think wind came out OK (but not great!).  There is still work to be done to make sure legislators and other decision-makers understand the strong support for wind from ND voters and the important role it plays in our state’s comprehensive energy plan.   

You can find information about these specific bills at http://www.legis.nd.gov/legislative-bill-tracking-system (see upper right-hand of page to type in bill numbers). 

Legislation Passed:

HB 1181                Termination of wind agreements – passed, after amendments developed by the wind community.

HB 1378                Aircraft Detection Systems for Wind Farms – Passed, after a variety of amendments developed by the wind community.  Requires installation of “light-mitigation technology systems” by December 31, 2012 (or earlier) unless the ND PSC grants an extension for economic or technical feasibility reasons.

SB 2313           Wind Siting and Decommissioning – PASSED.  Initially OPPOSED by wind community.  Called for two-year moratorium proposed by Senator Cook.  Moratorium was defeated in Senate. The bill was amended to provide set-backs acceptable to the wind industry that provided: 

“one and one - tenth times the height of the turbine from the property line of a nonparticipating landowner and less than three times the height of the turbine or more from an inhabited rural residence of a nonparticipating landowner. (turbine height is tip of blade at its highest point)"

HB 1008                Wind Study:  -the Public Service Commission appropriations bill includes a study of wind which is to include:

SECTION 7. LEGISLATIVE MANAGEMENT STUDY - IMPACT OF WIND ENERGY. 1. During the 2017-18 interim, the legislative management shall consider studying the impact of wind energy development on the environment, addressing and researching issues common to North Dakota landowners, and identifying potential issues for legislation. The study may include consideration of:

a. The impact of wind energy development on the environment, including aesthetic impacts;     

b. The impact of wind energy development on property values;

c. The impact of wind energy development on agriculture;

d. The advantages and disadvantages of implementing legislation for pooling or unitization of wind resources similar to that of the oil and gas industry in chapter 38-08; and 

e. The necessary processes for the decommissioning of a wind energy project.

Defeated Bills

HB 1028                Sales Tax Exemption – Extended the sales tax exemption for wind.  Bill was recommended by the Empower Commission; defeated in the House.

HB 1372                Wind tax and PTC tax -  Added $1.50/MWH tax and a 10% tax on the federal PTC.

SB 2209                 County wind revenue reallocation – allocated 70% of local property taxes paid from wind to the state.

SB 2314                 State Energy Plan-Study – proposed a study of the state energy plan; Rep. Al Carlson proposed an anti-wind amendment to require a wind facility demonstrate the project was “needed” before it could be permitted by the ND PSC.  The amendment and the study were defeated by the House.

ND For All Energy