Wind power opponents fear a wind turbine siting bill that they say will give the state power to override local decision-making and allow wind farms to operate in towns that don’t want them. House bill 4112 has been approved by the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy and is advancing through the Legislature.
“If this bill goes through then there’ll be a state decision being overriding town government and that’s what we really don’t want to have happen, it would be disastrous actually, ecologically, economically and it’s just not a wise choice,” said Nancy Richards Marcus of Berkshire County.
Several wind turbine opponents insist the governor’s ambitious energy goal of installing 2000 megawatts of wind power by 2020 is interfering with local interests. For instance, Cynthia Wick of Lenox said her town decided against a proposal to install three wind turbines because of the noise they create and their negative health effects.
“Instead what we’re doing, because no one’s telling us what to do, we have our own control, is we’re having a solar field that will take care of all our municipal needs so I’m here because I don’t believe in the state of Massachusetts, someone should be telling our towns what to do,” said Wick.
But Governor Deval Patrick says it’s a myth that the state is trying to take control over local decision-making.
“That is baloney. I want to be absolutely clear about that. The bill we have proposed is all about local control and also about clarity so that we have similar or the same rules across the Commonwealth,” said Patrick.
The governor emphasizes that if a city or town doesn’t want wind turbines, they won’t get them and he supports local control.
Wind turbine opponents also spoke out against a bill that requires utility companies to purchase electricity from renewable energy companies and allows renewable energy facilities to pay up to 5 percent of what they make in sales rather than what they owe in property taxes. Advocates fear this will hurt cities and towns, force utilities to buy expensive wind power and pass on the added costs to customers. The bill has been passed by the Senate but has not been taken up by the House of Representatives.
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