FRANKFORT | Some measure of success has been secured for citizens in Mason County when it comes to a proposed wind turbine project.
According to a press release from the office of State Rep. Mike Denham, D-Maysville, a bill that would address local concerns with siting of windmill projects in Mason and Fleming counties cleared the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee Thursday.
“What we tried to do was make sure that the siting board regulation applied to windmill projects,” said Denham, who is the sponsor of the bill.
In addition to requiring Public Service Commission siting board regulation, the bill would require that windmill power utilities hold public meetings in each county where a windmill would be located at the county fiscal court’s or state Public Service Commission’s request. The utilities would have to have a separate public meeting 90 days prior to filing an application to site a windmill under the bill. The requirements would also apply to other unregulated electric power generation facilities in the state, as applicable.
The provisions in HB 291 would not replace any ordinances considered and passed at the local level, said Denham. He said the legislation is only designed to complement what is done at the local level, adding that local action is necessary.
The bill is the result of a resolution passed recently by the Mason County Fiscal Court that asked the General Assembly to pass “legislation regulating the (wind) industry and any proposed projects,” said Denham, who appeared before the committee on Thursday with Mason County Judge-Executive James L. “Buddy” Gallenstein, Mason County Attorney John Estill, Fleming County Magistrate John Sims, and Mason County resident Joe Pfeffer.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Gallenstein. “The long and the short of it is, it makes the siting board take action.”
In January, members of the Concerned Citizens of Mason County asked for and got the fiscal court’s agreement to draft a resolution asking for the enactment of a code of conduct applicable to wind energy or other similar projects in the Kentucky General Assembly.
In part the resolution states the Fiscal Court supports such legislation, and has found that existing Kentucky statutes are insufficient or nonexistent so as to substantively provide for the regulations of wind energy projects; the absence of such statutes and regulations … has resulted in considerable debate and a division of the Citizens of the County as to the siting of such structures and the regulation of the system after construction; and that the issue of wind energy projects should be addressed on a statewide basis like other utility projects.
Denham said he believes HB 291 will “provide some transparency in regard to these windmill projects.”
“We need these public meetings and need this transparency so that everybody will know what’s happening,” he said.
HB 291 now goes to the full House for its consideration.