Article

Looser windmill rules defeated

Rows of wind turbines are unlikely to be spinning atop mountain ridges anytime soon. A Senate committee on Wednesday rejected a proposal that would have paved the way for large-scale wind energy production in the mountains. Large wind turbines are banned under the state's interpretation of a law restricting ridge development. The Agriculture Committee advanced a proposal that would keep it that way, changing the ridge law to cement the ban.

Rows of wind turbines are unlikely to be spinning atop mountain ridges anytime soon.

A Senate committee on Wednesday rejected a proposal that would have paved the way for large-scale wind energy production in the mountains.

Large wind turbines are banned under the state's interpretation of a law restricting ridge development. The Agriculture Committee advanced a proposal that would keep it that way, changing the ridge law to cement the ban.

It's part of proposed legislation setting up a statewide permit process for wind energy production.

Sen. Steve Goss, D-Watauga, was unable to change the legislation to allow ridge-top windmills. Now he'll try on the Senate floor to at least keep an explicit ban out of the bill.

The ban the committee endorsed would limit windmills to a single unit no more than 100 feet tall used to power a single home.

Mountain legislators like Sen. Joe Sam Queen, D-Haywood, say wind farms will scar ridges, seeing them as little different from the developments the legislature banned from mountaintops with the 1983 ridge law.

"We've had a regionwide consensus on what to do with the high mountains," Queen said.

Goss pushed to leave the rules up... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Rows of wind turbines are unlikely to be spinning atop mountain ridges anytime soon.

A Senate committee on Wednesday rejected a proposal that would have paved the way for large-scale wind energy production in the mountains.

Large wind turbines are banned under the state's interpretation of a law restricting ridge development. The Agriculture Committee advanced a proposal that would keep it that way, changing the ridge law to cement the ban.

It's part of proposed legislation setting up a statewide permit process for wind energy production.

Sen. Steve Goss, D-Watauga, was unable to change the legislation to allow ridge-top windmills. Now he'll try on the Senate floor to at least keep an explicit ban out of the bill.

The ban the committee endorsed would limit windmills to a single unit no more than 100 feet tall used to power a single home.

Mountain legislators like Sen. Joe Sam Queen, D-Haywood, say wind farms will scar ridges, seeing them as little different from the developments the legislature banned from mountaintops with the 1983 ridge law.

"We've had a regionwide consensus on what to do with the high mountains," Queen said.

Goss pushed to leave the rules up to local governments.

That would allow counties like Mitchell or towns like Spruce Pine to allow large turbines. Officials there want the law changed to help them lure the company Acciona Energy to locate a wind farm on a ridge above Spruce Pine.

Goss and Rep. Phil Frye, R-Mitchell, pleaded with the committee not to close the door to wind power in the mountains.

"Let the technology advance," Goss said.

Session winds down

Lawmakers are headed for the exits.

Giving final approval Wednesday to a month-late budget removed the major obstacle to the General Assembly adjourning its 2009 session. Its members speeded through other business in hopes of leaving in a matter of days.

Among the legislation considered Wednesday:

• Permission for Asheville businesses to pool together to buy health insurance.

The pilot project, proposed by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, aims to bring large and small businesses together to help lower costs. It could insure as many as 25,000 Asheville-area workers, supporters say.

The Senate gave its unanimous endorsement, sending it for a final vote in the House, which has already approved the authority in an earlier form.

• An overhaul of the N.C. Medical Board's procedure for disciplining doctors.

The proposal by Sen. Martin Nesbitt, D-Buncombe, won final legislative approval on a unanimous Senate vote, sending it to Gov. Bev Perdue for her signature.

Among other changes, it would prohibit regulators of the Medical Board from taking action against doctors solely for using alternative or experimental procedures.

• Traffic cameras in school zones and work zones to take pictures of speeders.

Sponsor Rep. Ray Rapp dropped the idea for the year, saying amendments under consideration in a committee would have gutted the proposal.

Rapp, D-Madison, had hoped North Carolina could use the speeding fines to pay school districts the $748 million judges have ruled the state owes them for failing to hand over fine collections for a decade.

He'll try again in the spring, he said.

"I think this is a setback, but it's not a defeat."


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

AUG 6 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/21590-looser-windmill-rules-defeated
back to top