Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, introduced a bill last week to try to regulate the multiple wind projects that are trying to be developed in Alabama, but it is losing the wind behind its sails.
The bill, which also is known as he Alabama Wind Energy Conversion Systems Act of 2013, is in trouble because of a filibuster by Democrats that has locked it up past the required introduction deadline. That forces the bill to get unanimous approval before it could be introduced.
“It wasn’t trouble related to the bill,” Williams said. “It was trouble related to Democrats.”
The bill’s delay in the Senate meant Williams had to rethink his options. He enlisted the aid of Rep. Randy Davis, R-Daphne, who already had introduced a local wind-regulation bill, to introduce his statewide bill in the House, which has no such deadline.
Davis said he believes his local legislation will pass, but the future of Williams’ bill isn’t as bright. He lamented that it’s unlikely go any farther than it already has.
“I just don’t think the calendar is on our side,” he said.
The bill states that development companies – like Pioneer Green which is planning projects in Etowah and Cherokee counties, in Williams’ district – would need “financial assurance” in place before beginning a project. The assurance would be in the form of a bond or cash, and would be used for decommissioning costs for the turbines.
The bill also would require developers to get permits from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management before building. To get the permits, developers would have to have a visual simulation of the proposed project, a reclamation plan to return the site to its original state prior to construction and a plot plan showing the locations of the turbines in the project, where guy lines would be required and the distance of each from property lines.
If the bill doesn’t make it to the governor’s desk, as expected, Williams has another plan to help regulate the proposed wind projects. He plans to work with ADEM, Alabama Power and the Rural Power Co-op Association to explore what kinds of administrative and executive options are possible to implement the specific safeguards outlined in his bill.
“They want to work with me, but that doesn’t mean they’re opposed to the windmills,” Williams said. “(The different agencies) would like to be a part of the discussion.”
Williams won’t stop trying to find options to regulate the proposed wind farms. He continues to hear an outcry against the projects from his constituents and it will continue to be one of his biggest issues.
“When the redistricting is done, I’ll have three of the five proposed wind projects in my district,” Williams said. “It’s a very important issue to me.”
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