HANCOCK, Mass. – The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy is holding daylong hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 7, on bills related to wind energy and wind-energy siting.
The first of two regional hearings will run from 10 to 4 at JJ’s Lodge at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, 37 Corey Road. Any member of the public is invited to attend the hearing or address the committee to register their thoughts and position on the bills.
The second hearing will be Monday, Sept. 26, at the Tilden Arts Center at Cape Cod Community College.
The comprehensive wind siting reform would streamline permitting and reduce the number of regulatory hoops energy companies must jump through and greatly decrease abuttors and interested groups’ ability to challenge the development of wind farms.
Opponents say a comprehensive bill will derail local control by giving too much authority to the state and too little to challengers. Siting reform advocates say the result will be more local control since communities will have greater authority over permitting – and the ability to more effectively remove obstacles.
The Berkshires are considered to have the greatest potential for mountain siting of wind farms.
The committee’s co-chairmen, Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, and Rep. John D. Keenan, D-Salem, will convene the hearing.
Also expected to be in attendance are members of Wind Wise Massachusetts, which objected to the timing and location of the hearing. In a letter to the committee chairmen, the group noted that the day hearing during the first week of school and that holding it at “a private facility in a remote location not served by public transportation” would preclude many people from attending.
In their response, the chairmen said the timing was not unusual and followed normal weekday schedule for hearings. It was more unusual for the hearings to be held in those areas like to be most affected by the bill, rather than in Boston, they wrote.
“We specifically shose a location outside of Pittsfield as the city will most likely not be impacted by the implementation of many bills,” the committee’s letter states.
Read both letters here, on the Wind Wise website.
Hancock is home to two wind power sites: Zephyr, the turbine powering Jiminy Peak Ski Resort, and the $65 million Berkshire Wind Power Project atop Brodie Mountain. Both projects are on private land.
The bills included in the hearings are House bills 1775 and 1759 and Senate bill 1666 related to siting reform for land-based projects and bills H. 1756, H. 1757, H. 2620 and S. 1695, related to other wind legislation.
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