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Lawmakers spar over windmill restrictions

Local and global environmental worries ran into each other Wednesday on the floor of the state Senate. "It's a competing environmental issue," state Sen. Joe Sam Queen told fellow senators, "developing alternative wind energy and preserving the beauty of the mountains." Senate Democrats from Western North Carolina sparred over whether windmills should be allowed to line ridge tops.

RALEIGH - Local and global environmental worries ran into each other Wednesday on the floor of the state Senate.

"It's a competing environmental issue," state Sen. Joe Sam Queen told fellow senators, "developing alternative wind energy and preserving the beauty of the mountains."

Senate Democrats from Western North Carolina sparred over whether windmills should be allowed to line ridge tops.

They came to no conclusion. After Senate Democrats huddled privately, the matter was sent back to a committee to be worked out.

The regulations pushed by Queen, of Waynesville, Sen. John Snow, of Murphy, and Sen. Martin Nesbitt, of Asheville, would ban windmills except those shorter than 100 feet and used only to power a single home.

"We don't want commercial developments on top of our mountains," Nesbitt said. "They bring with them roads, transmission lines and everything else that totally destroys the mountains."

But a fourth Democrat, Sen. Steve Goss, of Boone, argued for allowing any size of windmills allowed by city and county laws.

He said Ashe and Watauga counties have developed sensible regulations that allow for projects like a windmill erected this year at... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

RALEIGH - Local and global environmental worries ran into each other Wednesday on the floor of the state Senate.

"It's a competing environmental issue," state Sen. Joe Sam Queen told fellow senators, "developing alternative wind energy and preserving the beauty of the mountains."

Senate Democrats from Western North Carolina sparred over whether windmills should be allowed to line ridge tops.

They came to no conclusion. After Senate Democrats huddled privately, the matter was sent back to a committee to be worked out.

The regulations pushed by Queen, of Waynesville, Sen. John Snow, of Murphy, and Sen. Martin Nesbitt, of Asheville, would ban windmills except those shorter than 100 feet and used only to power a single home.

"We don't want commercial developments on top of our mountains," Nesbitt said. "They bring with them roads, transmission lines and everything else that totally destroys the mountains."

But a fourth Democrat, Sen. Steve Goss, of Boone, argued for allowing any size of windmills allowed by city and county laws.

He said Ashe and Watauga counties have developed sensible regulations that allow for projects like a windmill erected this year at Appalachian State University.

"This is an ongoing technology," Goss pleaded. "Don't kill it before it starts."

Environmental groups told senators just 5 percent of North Carolina's ridges could be topped with windmills, since the vast majority are on protected state and federal lands. But those few sites offer the chance to generate enough energy to power more than 400,000 homes, they said.

The regulations are part of a proposal that offers a system of permits for wind energy across the state, including the coast, where much of the generation is expected to take place.

Sen. Charlie Albertson, the lead backer of the bill, had agreed to change it to ban wind farms on ridge tops at the urging of Nesbitt and other senators.
But the Duplin County Democrat sided with Goss Wednesday, saying he was "taken aback" by the number of e-mails pouring in from WNC residents opposed to the changes. His office received more than 1,000 messages one day, he said.

A 1983 law restricts ridge top development, and state officials have interpreted the law to allow small windmills but ban large turbines.

Nesbitt and allies say windmills would ruin mountain views as much as the housing developments that led to the ridge law.


Source: http://www.citizen-times.co...

JUL 16 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/21231-lawmakers-spar-over-windmill-restrictions
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