After days of hearings and testimony, the House State Affairs Committee has voted to kill legislation proposing to slap a moratorium on new wind power development in Idaho. A motion to instead send the bill to the full House for amendments failed on a 9-10 vote, and the motion to kill the bill then passed on a 11-8 vote.
HB 265 would have imposed a two-year moratorium. Rep. Erik Simpson, R-Idaho Falls, sponsor of the bill, called wind power “a heavily subsidized industry,” and said, “The industry’s getting all the benefits and the incentives and the end result is we’re getting higher utility rates. That is not a good deal for the economy and it’s not a good deal for rate payers.” In multi-day hearings, eastern Idaho residents who oppose turbines going up near their homes spoke out in favor of the moratorium.
But Rep. Ken Andrus, R-Lava Hot Springs, said, “I cannot in good conscience shut people off and chase ’em out of the state after they’ve invested several million dollars, when we encouraged ’em to come and build wind farms.” He said, “I understand that there’s a problem in Bonneville County, but that is a siting problem with the (local) officials. I think they ought to face up to their responsibility there.” Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, said the move would violate the state’s 2007 energy plan, and that plan is up for review this summer by an interim committee. Rep. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, said she supported the tax incentive for renewable energy development, but said, “I never in my wildest dreams would have thought that it would be as successful as it has turned out to be. … It has munched up so much more of our revenues than we anticipated.” Said Rep. Lynn Luker, R-Boise, “This is an issue that needs to be brought to a head.” He proposed the motion to amend the bill, but it fell short.
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