It’s a race against the clock for leaders in Hamlin. Town supervisor Denny Roach hoped to have regulations for wind turbines in place earlier this month. On Tuesday morning, Roach says it could be another two months before the board sets standards.
“We want to make sure that we’ve considered and reviewed everything,” he said. “We do have a practical consideration, and that’s the fact that one of the council members just left for a month in Florida.”
The process has been controversial. Some community members think wind turbines will be eyesores and hurt the environment.
Now, the state legislature could pose a roadblock for Hamlin.
The Senate and Assembly are expected to take action on what is called Article X. The legislation would streamline the approval process for electric generating facilities, like wind farms, that exceed a power threshold of 30-thousand kilowatts. Article X could possibly affect all municipalities in the state.
“It could allow for municipalities that have regulations in effect to grandfather those regulations, and allow us to keep them,” Roach said, “or it could pre-empt us.”
The State Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, chaired by Senator George Winner Jr., sent a survey to local leaders like Roach. The survey asks how the community would be impacted by the legislation.
“One of the bigger benefits of wind towers is for the local revenue, and I think that would be at jeopardy if Article 10 went into effect,” Roach said.
He admits the state regulations would be better for developers. The application process could take less time under Article X. Under local regulations, developers have to go through an application and environmental study process that could take longer than a year or two.
But Roach says he and other communities considering wind farms would be disappointed to see the state pass legislation before they had a chance or at all.
“(I would be concerned) just because of the precedent it sets in the loss of local control,” he said.
The legislature is expected to vote on Article X before the legislative session ends in June. In Hamlin, board members are expected to take a vote on regulations they have drawn up at the end of April.
Reported by: Meghan Backus
26 February 2008