The House State Affairs Committee, after a heated debate, has voted 11-8 to kill HB 342, Rep. Tom Loertscher’s bill to give veto power over wind turbines to property owners within 2 miles, and instead refer the issue to the Legislature’s interim committee on energy. “This is about the little guy,” Loertscher argued; he said he can see dozens of wind turbines from his property. Rep. Janice McGeachin, R-Idaho Falls, said developers and county commissioners are “salivating” over the financial benefits of wind power projects, and said, “This issue is an issue that is driven by money, and unfortunately money clouds our judgment sometimes.”
Rep. Bert Stevenson, R-Rupert, said the interim committee had a subcommittee study the siting issue, it “spent a tremendous amount of time, and the conclusion of that subcommittee was that siting is a local issue.” Rep. Eric Anderson, R-Priest Lake, noted that HB 342 is a last-minute bill at the end of the session that went to the State Affairs committee rather than the energy committee. Rep. Erik Simpson, R-Idaho Falls, compared wind developers to old-time railroad “robber barons.” There was much testimony for and against the bill this morning, from everyone from wind developers (opposed) to county commissioners (opposed) to a sobbing real estate agent who described how she couldn’t sell a house that’s near wind turbines (in favor), despite lovely staging and the smell of freshly-baked cookies.
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