Lawmakers determined the fate of Vermont’s renewable energy bill after a long special session that concluded Thursday night.
The Senate voted in favor of sustaining Governor Peter Shumlin’s veto of the original bill. It addresses the problem of noise pollution from wind turbines and provides Vermonters with greater control over where some renewable energy projects could go.
Among other issues, Shumlin argues the bill’s language forces wind turbines, no matter the size, to comply with sound standards for small kilowatt projects.
It’s a bill many Vermonters care about, but thought it may not see the light of day given how late the sessions was going.
“There are big projects planned that I don’t think they’re looking through to see the damage they’ll do to the environment,” says Steve Halford of Vermonters for a Clean Environment.
The House ultimately suspended rules and passed the replacement bill, S.260, with clarifications addressing Shumlin’s concerns.
The new bill creates two categories for wind generation facilities for sound standards, a plant capacity of 500 kilowatts or less and a plant capacity greater than 500 kilowatts. It also includes $300,000 in funding for regional energy planning.
“Every piece of this is entirely consistent with what we voted on,” says Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden.
Earlier, House Republicans said they did not want to suspend house rules and vote on a whole new bill after already implementing changes requested by the governor at the end of the session.
“After being directly told by Democratic leadership and the administration that this compromise would be accepted and not vetoed, my caucus agreed to suspend rules, the reality is we were lied to,” says Rep. Jassen Willhoit, R-St. Johnsbury.
The Governor says he plans to sign the replacement bill into law.
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