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Massachusetts Senate One last gust for wind bill

The Senate will try again today to pass a bill supporters say will streamline the location of wind power facilities in Massachusetts.

The legislation, which has received mixed reviews from Berkshire lawmakers, passed both the Massachusetts Senate and House. However, the Senate failed to take a final parliamentary vote before the clock ran out July 31 in the Legislature’s formal session.

Senate President Therese Murray and fellow Senate Democrats are trying to push through the bill during the informal session, but Republican lawmakers have objected.

During informal sessions a single lawmaker can block a vote.

State Sen. Michael Knapik, R-Westfield, objected to the legislation during last Monday’s informal session. Opponents claim the bill would strip cities and towns of local control over siting wind projects.

If Knapik, or another senator, continues to block today’s vote, lawmakers will have to start from scratch in January.

State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, is a proponent of the wind siting bill that would give cities and towns 120 days to review and decide upon new wind siting projects before allowing developers to bypass those groups and go before a state panel instead.

The goal for the legislation is to build 3,000 wind turbines across the state – with several prime wind sites potentially located in the Berkshires.

Downing said last week he was convinced to back the bill when legislators removed a portion of it that would have allowed developers to build turbines on state-owned parks.

State Rep. Denis E. Guyer, D-Dalton said the legislation does take away siting control and would be detrimental to small towns that lack full-time planners and the expertise to review “extremely complex proposals.”

State Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, D-North Adams, said that he also had reservations about the bill.