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Legislature’s second attempt at wind generator permit changes moves forward

On Wednesday, March 6, the House Commerce & Energy Committee will finalize its look at a titled “to define solar energy facilities and to establish certain provisions regarding solar energy permits.”

Senate Bill 15 is argued to not be a solar energy bill, but a wind generator bill.

On Feb. 21, after being hoghoused the new bill was passed onward by a Senate Commerce & Energy Committee vote of 5-2. Then the committee changed the bill’s title to more accurately fit the bill’s text. On Feb. 25, the full Senate amended the bill again, then voted 21-14 to pass it along to the House.

The House Commerce and Energy Committee reviewed it next.

SB 15 testimony and arguments come after the twin bill SB 14 was vetoed by the governor. SB 14 had the same title as SB 15 does now. SB 14 was the first bill to be vetoed by the governor. On Jan. 15, the Senate Commerce and Energy Committee voted 6-1 for a “Do Pass” recommendation on to the full Senate. On Feb. 17, the Senate passed it 31-3. On Jan. 25, the House Commerce & Energy Committee voted 9-4 to send SB 14 on to the full House, where it received a 66-4 passing vote. It was vetoed by the governor on February 6. On Feb. 28, the Senate failed to override the veto, with a beaten 1-30 vote.

One of the main points of the vetoed bill was a 12-month permit time for the Public Utilities Commission to address wind turbine permits. One of the main points of the still-surviving bill is a nine-month window.

The PUC and the wind turbine industry complimented each other on hammering out the nine-month compromise, rather than the original six months or the earlier bill’s 12 months.

Opponents told the committee that nine months is not enough. Darci Adam, Clark, said that nonprofits and individual citizens should be allowed three or four years to come up with finances to fight this.

Opponents also voiced that allowing opposition testimony from only those “directly interested” was too subjective. And, the difference between an evidentiary hearing, a public meeting and other terms for public input was not clear.

The committee attempted to kill the bill by sending it to the nonexistent 41st day of the legislature; the vote failed 5-6. A Do Pass vote failed by the same numbers. Sending the bill on to the full House without any recommendation failed 2-9. Finally, a motion to defer further testimony and discussion to March 6 was declared by a non-counted voice vote.