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The legislation requires the Public Service Board to conform with Act 250 criteria, which would give towns a greater say in how renewable energy projects, including wind projects, are sited. It also sets aside $75,000 for a study of the impacts of wind turbines.
Act 250, the state’s landmark land use law, uses a different set of criteria than the Vermont Public Service Board, which reviews power projects under its Section 248 rules.
The study will zoom in on the health, environmental and economic impacts of wind. It would also examine sound and “infrasound” emissions – an issue being raised increasingly by opponents and those living near utility-scale wind projects.
Department of Public Service Commissioner Chris Recchia told the committee that a previous study on sound impacts from wind towers cost $60,000. Previously, the Senate Natural Resources Committee killed a proposed moratorium on wind projects, which had been unpopular with the Democratic leadership and the Shumlin administration. The Senate Appropriations Committee green-lighted $75,000 for a newly mandated Department of Public Service study due in October on how the state should proceed with renewable energy projects, particularly wind power.
The study will also examine renewable energy credits, if renewable energy investment impacts the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, and how to fund public participation in the siting process for energy plants. It calls for substantial public participation.
This legislation also convenes an interim legislative committee, of undecided makeup, which will examine the Department of Public Service findings, and report back in December with recommendations on integrating regional and local planning, and standards applying to all wind turbines.
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