GADSDEN, Alabama – The Gadsden City Council Tuesday approved a resolution supporting proposed regulations for wind turbines in Alabama that could come before the Legislature early next year.
The council unanimously voted in favor the resolution, which supports a bill pre-filed by State Sen. Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City). Williams’ draft bill would require wind farm developers to get a permit from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. It would also establish height requirements, setbacks, and mandate that noise from turbines not exceed 50 decibels.
It would also require any turbine which stays inactive for more than one year to be removed by the system’s operator. Williams says his bill was modeled on similar legislation from New York.
Williams’ bill was inspired, in large measure, by a proposed wind farm project by Pioneer Green Energy that would stretch from Etowah to Cherokee County. Pioneer Green officials say new technology will allow windmill farms to flourish in the Southeast, a part of the nation that has seen very
little wind energy development.
The company announced earlier this summer that it has acquired all the land rights it needs for the project to proceed. A group of landowners is currently suing to stop the project. An opposition group has also been working against the windmill farms, saying they will spoil the natural beauty and property values of the area.
Council members voiced support for Williams’ proposed bill, saying there should be regulations governing wind energy projects to protect landowners. Councilman Deverick Williams said landowners should be concerned as to who pays for the dismantling of wind turbines if the projects are abandoned.
Councilman Robert Avery urged a group of about 25 residents who came to show their opposition to wind turbines to lobby state and federal lawmakers, while Councilman Ben Reed said he is concerned about the turbines’ noise.
“It’s alright to put these in a field in Wyoming, where there aren’t people living around them for miles,” said Council President Robert Echols. “But to put it in the middle of a residential area is ridiculous as far as I’m concerned.”
Anita Simmons, a resident on Tabor Road, said many residents still are unaware of the project. She said it is easier to put up wind turbines along a scenic roadway than it is to put up a billboard in opposition to the project.
“We’re still gathering signatures against this, as people find out about it,” she said.
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