Library filed under Energy Policy from Vermont
New standards on large scale wind projects in Vermont will give towns a voice in where they are built, but opting out entirely won't be an option.
Facing the possibility that voters here may reject the proposal, putting a damper on large-scale wind development in Vermont, Iberdrola last week put cash on the table for individual voters. Many residents called the offer an attempt at undue influence, if not an outright bribe.
The Department of Public Service wants Vermonters to make sacrifices to meet the state’s ambitious alternative energy goals. Giving up some rural landscapes for solar arrays, sharing cars and driving less, and generally using less cheap oil and gas are all in order if the state has any hope of achieving 90 percent renewable energy usage by 2050.
Of course, the backlash against Big Wind in Vermont and elsewhere isn’t the story the American Wind Energy Association and its myriad minions in the left-wing media are pushing. Annette Smith, the executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, a small nonprofit group that has been active in the state’s energy-project-siting battles for 17 years, told me “The pro-wind lobby is mad that wind energy has become a high-profile issue,” in the gubernatorial race. “They want to keep this all hidden.”
Just days before the Vermont primary on Aug. 9, controversy is swirling around a statement Dunne made last week that some observers interpreted as a new and stronger endorsement of local control over wind siting. The kerfuffle has cost Dunne the endorsement of author and climate change activist Bill McKibben, and has drawn attacks from his rivals for the Democratic nomination, Sue Minter and Peter Galbraith.
Marshall Hollander, a former town supervisor for Columbia, in Herkimer County, was among those who challenged wind farms proposed in several communities near his. ..."The developers here have been like wolves who target rural townships so they can make some money before they disappear," he said.
Gov. Peter Shumlin signed a bill into law Monday that proponents say will impose tougher sound standards on wind turbines and give towns a greater say over where renewable projects are built.
Don Chioffi, a former selectboard member in Rutland Town, and the original author of the Rutland Resolution that attracted over 160 towns to join the “Vermont Energy Rebellion,” also wasn’t happy with Thursday’s session. “That’s such a disingenuous, deceitful charade that they pull on the Vermont public. It’s just unbelievable,” Chioffi said.
House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, top left, surveys the scene late Thursday during the veto session of the Legislature. Photo by Mike Polhamus/VTDigger
House Minority Leader Don Turner, R-Milton, attributed Shumlin’s veto to pressure from the renewable energy industry and said the governor’s objections could have been addressed in next year’s legislative session rather than after adjournment.
The Senate will take up the bill first on Thursday. Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell, a longtime critic of the renewable-energy siting process, says he’s doesn’t think the problems with the bill were severe enough to warrant a veto.
Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin on Monday vetoed a bill designed to give local communities more say in the siting of wind and solar power projects, saying he objected to strict limits it placed on sound emanating from wind turbines, among other issues.
Legislators are in talks to convene a special session next week should Gov. Peter Shumlin bring out his veto pen for a bill meant to give communities more oversight over the location of energy projects.
Shumlin says he appreciates lawmakers’ efforts to give towns an opportunity to have more say in the renewable energy siting process. “The bad news is from my perspective, we have some real concern that it might put the brakes on the ability to build renewables.
The Shumlin administration and legislative leaders are questioning aspects of a renewable energy siting bill passed in the waning hours of the 2016 legislative session. The concerns may prompt Gov. Peter Shumlin to veto the bill, according to Rep. Tony Klein, the chairman of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee.
If Shap Smith wants to be lieutenant governor, he must provide Vermonters with a full explanation of the above relationship and the failure of the House to pass meaningful industrial wind and solar regulation over the past six years. He must clear the air of the perception of conflict of interest now hanging over his head.
“In my interpretation, what Vermont’s Legislature has just done is they have declared that there exists an ‘imminent peril to public health, safety and welfare from wind turbine noise,’” Smith said, quoting from the statute. Moreover, the emergency rule sound standards must not exceed an average 45 decibels outside a home and average 30 decibels inside. Smith claims those limits are not currently being met by many wind projects, including Sheffield Wind, a 40-megawatt, 16-turbine project in Sheffield.
Windham’s ban on large wind turbines is “based on the unique topography and settlement patterns of our town, our 10 years of research and knowledge and the support of the majority of our residents and property owners,” according to the town plan. Yet Iberdrola’s proposal has spurred intense debate as proponents and opponents debate the potential environmental and financial impacts. The project is expected to be the subject of votes in both towns this year.
MONTPELIER, Vt. — Lawmakers agreed to send a controversial renewable energy siting bill to the governor’s desk, but opinions on what difference the bill makes — especially with regard to wind turbine noise — are mixed.
The bill halts wind turbine approvals for 45 days, to give the Public Service Board time to draft provisional sound standards that will apply through July 2017, the date by which the board must have adopted permanent rules on sound the structures produce. Those rules must allow sound from the turbines at levels no greater than the most restrictive permit the Public Service Board has yet granted.