The debate over commercial wind projects on Vermont mountaintops will continue next year at the Statehouse.
By a vote of 140-3 Friday afternoon the House passed a scaled-down wind bill that directs two legislative committees to hold meetings over the summer. The panels will explore a range of issues around industrial wind farms, their impact on local communities and their contribution to the state power mix.
And that’s a far cry from the original bill introduced in the Senate at the start of the session that would have imposed a three-year moratorium on new industrial wind projects. That idea was since withdrawn.
To wind critics, something was better than nothing.
Rep. Sam Young, a Glover Democrat, said the 400-foot turbines now spinning in both Sheffield and Lowell have “actually really torn apart our communities, they’ve pitted people against each other.”
Rep. Don Turner of Milton, whose district abuts the new Georgia Mountain four turbine project, said he hears daily from constituents who are either for and against them.
“They tore up the mountain and the wind turbines haven’t turned all week,” Turner told colleagues in the floor debate. “These questions, there’s so many unanswered questions.”
Rep. Tony Klein, a staunch proponent of renewable energy and chair of the House Energy Committee, said the bill would ensure “the conversation continues” over issues surrounding the state’s wind policy.
“We’ll look at it all,” Klein said, over the half-dozen sessions he’ll convene this summer and fall, and said a new proposal may emerge next session as a result.
Lawmakers are also eager to see results expected shortly from a special commission appointed by the governor that’s been studying the fairness of current state rules for siting electric generation facilities, and whether small towns have an adequate voice.
Wind turbines, Klein said, “have obviously affected people in a lot of communities. That’s not good. We have to change that.”