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Monday, November 23, 2009

Madison to Discuss Wind Turbine Rules, Including Decommissioning Requirements

...decommissioning requirements: do we have that for pipelines?

The Madison City Commission has wind energy regulations on tonight's agenda. Evidently our city has yet to adopt any clear rules on wind turbines in city limits, and government naturally abhors a vacuum.

Actually, some clear rules on wind turbines are good for Madison. Established rules will make it easier for developers to calculate their cost-benefit analysis and get to work capitalizing on Madison's potential for energy independence.

The agenda packet (scroll down to page 20) includes a model ordinance draft from the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission. Section 14 of the model ordinance addresses decommissioning of wind power facilities. Here the PUC recommends laying out very clear rules establishing that the owner or operator of the wind facility is fully responsible for the cost of dismantling and removing the turbine and other equipment when it has reached the end of its useful life. The model ordinance requires the wind facility owner/operator to file a full decommissioning plan.

Holding developers responsible for the decommissioning of their energy facilities makes perfect sense. That same responsibility should apply to the owners and operators of oil pipelines, right? Dakota Rural Action thinks so; TransCanada disagrees.

The city of Madison is wise to get ahead of the curve and establish clear rules and responsibilities for any energy developers who might come to town to build big projects. The state should take its own advice and make the same requirements of big Canadian oil.

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