House deliberates review procedures for wind projects

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(Host) As part of its deliberation over next year’s Capital Construction Bill, the Vermont House strongly rejected efforts on Thursday morning to have wind energy projects placed under the jurisdiction of Act 250. Instead, by a vote of 132 to13, House members supported an amendment to create a special study commission to look at this issue and issue a report to the General Assembly next January.

Currently, all energy projects are reviewed by the Public Service Board under a process known as Act 248. Troy Representative Bobby Starr argued that Act 250 should apply to proposed wind generation projects to give members of the public an opportunity to more fully participate in the review process:

(Starr) “It’s great to study things but I’ve also found that you can study things to death. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s going to happen to the top of our mountain ridges with these 350-foot wind turbines sitting up there, spinning with flashing lights on them.”

(Host) But Commerce Committee Chairman Mark Young said the plan to include the review of wind projects under Act 250 had not been thoroughly studied and could have some significant consequences:

(Young) “I.e., the Velco upgrade from Rutland to Burlington. Are we making a decision there that it should be under 250 instead of 248? Are we suggesting that future siting of utilities should be handled under 250 and not 248? It’s a huge issue.”

(Host) The House is expected to complete its preliminary review of the Capital Construction bill this afternoon.

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