SPRINGFIELD – Counties would be limited in some of the restrictions they could place on small, non-commercial wind turbines under a bill that cleared a Senate committee Thursday.
But despite voting the legislation out of committee, several senators indicated they were unhappy with the bill (HB230) and said it needed to be amended.
The Senate sponsor, Sen. David Koehler, D-Peoria, said an amendment being drafted would allow counties to regulate the wind turbines for safety issues.
The director of the Illinois Wind Energy Association, Kevin Borgia, said the proposed law was needed because “there were governments that were going a little too far and were instituting some regulations that were causing problems for individuals.”
“In your opinion they were going too far,” said Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, “but isn’t that a local county decision if they want to limit where they can be and how far they can be?”
Borgia said the bill would place a limit on height restrictions that counties could impose on turbines developed by individuals and businesses that wanted to generate their own energy for their own use. The height restriction, he said, would be related to the size of the property.
“The height of the device is really determined by the setback,” Koehler added. “If you don’t have enough property, if you don’t have enough of a footprint, it’s going to be very small.”
Even though 12 senators voted to send the bill out of committee, several said they were bothered by it, and that their floor vote would depend on whether the proposal was improved with the amendment.
“I think you’re going to have a hard time convincing many of us, especially on the county issue,” said Sen. John O. Jones, R-Mount Vernon. “It’s going to be very difficult to satisfy all those concerns in an amendment.”
The regulation of the non-commercial wind turbines has not been an issue in East Central Illinois, Borgia said after the committee meeting, but has been controversial in Peoria-area counties.
Also Thursday, the committee recommended passage of legislation creating a Lake Michigan Offshore Wind Energy Advisory Council. Under the legislation (HB 1558) the group is asked to study topics related to wind energy from Lake Michigan and report to the governor and the Legislature by June 30, 2012.
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