YOUR TEXAS AGRICULTURE MINUTE
Legislature considers regulatory framework for wind, solar developments
By Gary Joiner
There is little regulation or oversight over wind and solar developments in Texas at the state level.
State Sens. Lois Koklhorst of Brenham and Mayes Middleton of Galveston have authored a Senate bill in the Texas Legislature to change that.
SB 624 requires the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to establish oversight of renewable energy projects.
The bill would require a person seeking to operate a renewable energy generation facility to apply for a permit from the PUC.
The PUC will give notice to affected parties, including any property owner located within 25 miles of the boundary of the proposed facility. Facilities larger than 15 megawatts must notify the county judge for all counties within 25 miles of the facility, if requested.
The PUC may also require the turbines or panels are not within 500 feet of any property line and 1,000 feet from any “habitable structure.”
The agencies may require wildlife assessments around the facility.
If the PUC determines the permit holder did not properly remove their facilities in accordance with the Texas Utilities Code, the PUC may come onto the project and remove the facilities themselves.
The bill establishes a “Cleanup Fund.” It consists of private contributions, legislative appropriations and environmental impact fees on every permit holder.
State Rep. Jared Patterson of Frisco has filed the companion legislation in the Texas House.
Regulatory oversight is needed, but property rights must be recognized. It’s an important public policy balance.
The preceding commentary is brought to you by Texas Farm Bureau, the “Voice of Texas Agriculture.” Called “Your Texas Agriculture Minute,” TFB will issue thought-provoking editorials each week—via print and audio—to spark understanding of agriculture in the Lone Star State and its impact on each and every Texan.
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