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Washington Electric Co-op opposes wind moratorium legislation; bill introduced that would prohibit turbines on state lands  

A bipartisan group of seven senators introduced another piece of legislation that would “prohibit most commercial construction, including electric generation facilities, in state parks and forests, in designated natural areas, on conserved lands, and on lands managed by the Agency of Natural Resources.” The bill would also amend the quasi-judicial Public Service Board’s criteria for issuing a permit, or certificate of public good, in a way that would require wind developers to gain municipal approval. Towers or turbines over 1,500 feet would require approval by the municipality where they are located, by adjoining municipalities that can see the structures and by other affected municipalities. Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell, D-Quechee, and Sen. Peter Galbraith, D-Townshend, sponsored this draft bill. The other sponsors are also listed on the moratorium bill.

Credit:  by Andrew Stein | January 16, 2013 | vtdigger.org ~~

Washington Electric Co-op is the latest utility to weigh in on large-scale wind development. The co-op supports wind generation and opposes a recent legislative proposal for a moratorium on turbines.

Two weeks ago, members the Vermont Electric Co-op board made a very different pronouncement: They passed a resolution asking the Legislature to put a halt to new renewable project mandates from the Legislature for a two-year period.

Two weeks ago, special interest groups on both sides of the moratorium debate also spoke out when legislators announced their intent to impose a three-year ban on the development of wind generation projects with a capacity greater than 500 kilowatts. A bipartisan group of nine senators introduced the moratorium bill last week. The legislation has since been referred to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, which is chaired by one of the bill’s key sponsors and architects: Sen. Robert Hartwell, D-Manchester Center.

Joining the long line of opposition to the moratorium – including, but not limited to, the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, the Conservation Law Foundation, 350Vermont and the Vermont Natural Resources Council – is the Washington Electric Cooperative, a Vermont utility that serves about 10,500 homes and businesses in Orange, Washington and Caledonia counties.

The utility’s general manager, Avram Patt, and its board of directors issued a public statement this week that said such a moratorium would be counterintuitive to the state’s goal to expand renewable energy generation over the next four decades.

“It would be a serious, regressive and damaging mistake to enact an arbitrary moratorium, or to set conditions whose apparent intent is to make sure no wind projects can get built,” wrote the utility’s leadership. “Climate change is already affecting us, as Vermonters, and as utilities responsible for reliable delivery of power.”

Patt and the board acknowledged some of the concerns voiced by moratorium proponents.

“We recognize that the siting of large scale wind projects on Vermont ridgelines has environmental and aesthetic impact, as does the siting of any power plant, major construction or development,” the board wrote. “Vermont should not and has not ‘rolled over’ for developers of wind projects, and the projects that have been approved have been subjected to tough rigorous review.”

A bipartisan group of seven senators introduced another piece of legislation that would “prohibit most commercial construction, including electric generation facilities, in state parks and forests, in designated natural areas, on conserved lands, and on lands managed by the Agency of Natural Resources.”

The bill would also amend the quasi-judicial Public Service Board’s criteria for issuing a permit, or certificate of public good, in a way that would require wind developers to gain municipal approval. Towers or turbines over 1,500 feet would require approval by the municipality where they are located, by adjoining municipalities that can see the structures and by other affected municipalities. Senate President Pro Tempore John Campbell, D-Quechee, and Sen. Peter Galbraith, D-Townshend, sponsored this draft bill. The other sponsors are also listed on the moratorium bill.

Correction: The Vermont Electric Co-operative did not specifically ask for a moratorium on wind; the board asked for a moratorium on renewable energy mandates.

Source:  by Andrew Stein | January 16, 2013 | vtdigger.org

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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