At the start of the legislative session, Senate Bill 30 came in like a lion, and now it’s poised to limp out of the House like a newborn lamb.
Senators took a bill that called for a three-year moratorium on large-scale wind developments, pared it down to legislation that would have required large energy generation projects to conform to Act 250 land-use criteria, and then stripped it to $75,000 worth of studies for the House to consider. To read more about that process, click here.
On Friday, Rep. Tony Klein, D-Montpelier, who chairs the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, unveiled a new one-page version of the bill that calls for his committee and the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee to meet up to six times before next session to “review the report and recommendations of the Governor’s Energy Siting Policy Commission.”
The committee is set to vote on the bill on Tuesday, and no committee members openly opposed it when it was introduced. Klein said he expects the House to take it up on the floor on Thursday.
He also said Sen. Bob Hartwell, D-Bennington, who chairs the Senate Natural Resources and Energy Commission and who introduced the original version of S.30, is on board with this plan. Hartwell, however, was not in attendance at the Statehouse on Friday and he was not reachable by the time this story was published.
“At least three things will come out of what we do during the summer study,” Klein told his committee. “That is addressing the need for Vermonters to have easier access to the Public Service Board process, addressing the desire to have town plans and regional planning commission plans carry more weight, and I actually think the solution to the curtailment problem is quite simple.”
David Hallquist, CEO of the utility Vermont Electric Cooperative, flagged the curtailment problem Klein referenced at the beginning of April. He publicly opposed any new utility-scale wind projects in the Northeast Kingdom because the grid operator, ISO-New England, is ordering Vermont and New Hampshire wind projects to curtail electricity output to maintain grid stability.
Klein’s proposed solution to this problem in the permitting process is to require the Public Service Board to consider curtailment reports from ISO New England before issuing a certificate of public good for a project.
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