Senator wants wind power moratorium

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(Host) A Northeast Kingdom senator who supports renewable energy and conservation says the state needs a moratorium on wind projects. Essex-Orleans Senator Vince Illuzzi says the delay would give officials time to determine where large wind turbines should be built.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) The Vermont Public Interest Research Group has launched a campaign this summer to get thousands of Vermonters to call for cleaner energy alternatives.

Vermont will probably lose two main power sources over the next two decades – the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant and the power contract with Hydro-Quebec. VPIRG says the state needs to work now to boost energy conservation by 20% by 2010. And it says Vermont should also set a goal of a 20% increase in renewable energy by 2020.

On Monday, VPIRG’s plan was endorsed by two state senators. But one of them, Vince Illuzzi (R-Essex-Orleans) says developers should hold off on new wind power projects until the state develops a wind energy policy. Illuzzi says his constituents are concerned about three large scale wind projects proposed for the Northeast Kingdom.

(Illuzzi) “So I think we do need a moratorium. I think we need to study the pros and cons and we need to take into consideration that Vermont is one large community and we have a lot of our community members saying that these are alien, they are not part of the country side.”

(Dillon) Illuzzi, who chairs the Senate Institutions Committee, says he supports renewable energy and owns a small wind turbine. But he says he’s uncomfortable with the present regulatory review, which gives the Public Service Board the authority to approve wind projects.

(Illuzzi) “I think we need to revisit the law that essentially leaves it up to the Public Service Board that makes those decisions.”

(Dillon) Senator Ginny Lyons (D-Chittenden County) chairs the Senate Natural Resources Committee. Lyons says the state doesn’t have to halt new projects while it develops a wind energy policy.

(Lyons) “I’m not sure we need a moratorium. We need full public involvement. I think we need open discussion. And we do need a policy and we need it pretty quick.”

(Dillon) Both senators support greater investment in energy conservation programs. Beth Sachs, who works for the state’s energy efficiency utility, says Vermont can save electricity for half the cost of new generation.

(Sachs) “There’s probably 30% of the energy that we use now that we could cost-effectively and easily save – meaning we don’t need new technologies. They’re out there.”

(Dillon) VPIRG has called on Governor Jim Douglas to support its goals for renewable energy and energy conservation.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon.

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