A bill regulating wind farms in Alabama was approved Wednesday by a House committee and will head to a vote in the full chamber.
The Wind Energy Conversion Act, proposed by Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, was passed unanimously by the House Commerce Committee.
Williams said the bill, which was approved Feb. 28 by the Senate, came out of committee with amendments that will allow for public hearings at the Public Service Commission if a new wind project is proposed in Alabama. It also will clarify some technical language in the bill, including better defining what constitutes an abandoned wind farm.
All committee members also signed 6-year-old Lillian Coker’s petition to stop Pioneer Green’s proposed wind projects on Lookout Mountain in Etowah and Cherokee counties. She had gathered more than 1,000 signatures for her petition.
Patrick Buckley, development manager for Pioneer Green, said the company remains unsatisfied with the bill in its current form. He said several amendments he hoped to offer were blocked.
Buckley said Pioneer Green’s biggest concerns are the noise setbacks and the permitting process. He said the decibel levels for the setbacks should be measured to the nearest occupied building or home, where people live, eat and sleep, as opposed to the current setbacks, which measure to property lines where people may not live.
He said the permitting process is unfair because Pioneer Green already has spent a good deal of time and money receiving federal permits to build the site under the National Environmental Policy Act. He said the company already has done studies on the effects of wind turbines on bats, migratory birds, eagles and the landscape.
“All of the things that have been raised in this bill have already been accounted for in the NEPA process,” Buckley said.
Williams said he expects a House vote soon on the legislation.
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