As one wind-regulating measure failed in a North Carolina House committee, another bill has been filed to take its place.
The latest measure, called “ An Act to Better Ensure Compatibility of Wind Energy Facilities With Military Operations and Readiness,” has similarities to two other bills filed over the past several weeks, specifically, in how it purports to address concern over wind farms’ potential impact to military facilities.
Rep. John Szoka (R-Cumberland) says Wednesday’s measure was filed after another bill, the ” Responsible Wind Energy Implementation” act, failed to pass a committee vote. He calls the new measure “a coordinated effort that attempted to involve all the stakeholders to adjust the current policy on Wind Farm permitting.”
“Like many laws that are passed, after they go into effect there are often subsequent changes made to address issues that arise,” he adds.
Another recently filed measure, the “ Military Operations Protection Act of 2017,” has a similar theme.
All three proposals – including the one that failed – contain new procedures that developers currently have to go through to get turbines spinning, which include an already extensive review process by the Department of Defense. In a recent interview, Katharine Kollins, president of the Southeast Wind Coalition, pointed to requirements already in place regarding military impact in making bills like this irrelevant.
But the lawmakers pushing the measures have questioned the current process.
Sen. Louis Pate (R-Lenoir, Pitt, Wayne), a sponsor of previously-proposed wind farm regulating legislation, said in a recent interview he questions whether the Pentagon had ever signed on to North Carolina’s sole utility-scale wind farm, the Amazon project currently spinning near Elizabeth City.
“Was there political pressure? We don’t know what led to that decision,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s been an awful lot of discussion in North Carolina yet.”
In addition to requirements already in place – such as notifying the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, developers would have to notify the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs of meetings and application milestones under the latest measure.
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