MONTPELIER, Vt. –
The fate of a bill regulating renewable energy projects is up in the air after passing the Senate Thursday. After spending months drafting the bills, senators rewrote large portions of the measure on the floor Thursday. Now, representatives may scrap it for parts and start over.
The next battle between renewable energy developers and local planners will be fought in the House of Representatives. Thursday, the Senate considered amendment after amendment on a bill a handful of senators spent all year drafting before passing it.
“We neglected to make any moves on a lot of substantial issues around renewable energy,” said Sen. John Rodgers, D-Essex-Orleans counties.
The bill calls on local communities to draft their own municipal and regional siting plans and is a response to push back from local communities at odds with industrial developers of big solar and wind projects.
Rodgers sought a noise standard and mandatory monitoring, but that’s not contained within the bill. He also voiced concern that the state Public Service Department would have the power to approve local plans.
Rodgers did call requirements that safety lights be radar-activated as opposed to continuously blinking and mandated looks at the full carbon cycle of developments wins.
“I think there’s a few tiny pieces of the bill that are good, but yes, as far as the planning portion, I believe it should be started from scratch,” said Rodgers.
“I have no idea what’s in S.230. I made it my business not to stick my nose in it,” said Rep. Tony Klein, D-East Montpelier.
The bill will soon land before the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee and its chairman Klein. Klein says they knew the bill would undergo significant changes. He says they’ll likely keep some portions but are likely to largely start over in crafting a House version.
“You take the ingredients out of the pot, and then the committee does its work and decides what’s worthy of being put back in,” said Klein.
The legislative session is only expected to continue for a little more than a month and Klein concedes that’s not much time to tackle an emotionally charged issue like siting, so giving communities looking for more say about what energy projects come to town may have to wait.
Klein’s committee is likely to begin looking at the bill next week.
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