Articles from Alabama
A bill regulating wind farms in Alabama was approved Wednesday by a House committee and will head to a vote in the full chamber. The Wind Energy Conversion Act, proposed by Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, was passed unanimously by the House Commerce Committee.
Her mother, Cara Coker, said she talked with her daughter at dinner one night about the proposed project, and said she was “pretty passionate” about stopping the turbines. She said Lillian pounded her fist on the table and said, “They cannot put windmills on my mountain, I’ll stop them.”
Commissioner Laura Cobb said the issue was never discussed in a commission meeting. She said she only found out about it when she ran into one of the Terra-Gen representatives, Cobb said. Commissioner Emmett Owen said he had spoken to some people about the wind farm and asked them to come to a commission meeting to talk about it in public. “I think it should have had the backing of a resolution,” Owen said. “I think if they’re pushing legislation or an agenda, as far as the commission is concerned, it needs to start here.”
It has only taken Lillian “Lilli” Coker, 6-year-old kindergartener from Gadsden, Ala., three days to get almost 600 Alabamians to sign a petition encouraging the Alabama legislature to “Say ‘no’ to wind turbines” ...If you would like to help Lilli reach her goal of 1,000 signatures before she presents her petition to the Alabama legislature on Wednesday, CLICK HERE TO SIGN, and take a moment to SHARE this story with your Facebook, Twitter and email friends.
Pioneer Green Energy has filed a brief disagreeing with the assertion in a lawsuit filed by Cherokee County residents’ lawsuit that its wind project will cause a litany of problems for the residents and the adjacent area.
Williams said the bill is supported by a myriad of state and local agencies, such as the Public Service Commission, Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the governor’s office, the League of Municipalities and utility providers such as the Tennessee Valley Authority and Alabama Power Co. The bill sets up bonds on the projects, institutes property setbacks with decibel limits and places wind energy under the PSC, like other modes of power production.
The Alabama Senate passed a bill today to regulate wind farms. Senate Bill 12 by Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, would require wind mill companies to be regulated by the Public Service Commission.
The most concerning part of Williams’ research may have come from the realization that the State of Alabama has no laws on the books to protect citizens and communities when it comes to wind energy production. While regulations on coal mining require an almost unimaginable amount of research, proposals, permits, reclamation plans, insurance and numerous other safeguards overseen by independent government entities, wind farms are largely free to do as they please without any real oversight to speak of.
In Alabama, a Senate energy panel reviewed a measure to regulate turbines yesterday, moving the bill forward favorably late in the afternoon with a 5-1 vote. Wind projects are proposed for eight counties, said bill sponsor state Sen. Phil Williams (R) of Rainbow City. ..."There is absolutely no regulatory authority in Alabama regarding wind," Williams said. "We aren't saying you can't come here, but if you're going to come here, our citizens have to be protected."
Under Williams' bill, wind farm projects would need approval by the state's Public Service Commission and the local government. Turbine-building companies would have to create a plan to have the windmills dismantled if the project went belly-up. Furthermore, windmills would have to be set 2,500 feet back from the property line and would be allowed to generate no more than 40 decibels of noise at the property line.
In a statement, the Birmingham Audubon Society posted to its Facebook page, the board stated that it is "not opposed to all wind turbines," but that it is "absolutely necessary to properly site" the developments to avoid bird pathways and wildlife habitats. "As the Alabama Senate considers SB12, we encourage Birmingham Audubon members to ask their legislators to require guidelines that wind turbines be planned, sited and operated in a manner to reduce threats to habitat, birds and other wildlife."
The uncertainty in the U.S. may encourage some developers to take their projects abroad. Walt Hornaday, president of Cielo Wind Energy in Austin, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last month that he is hopeful the tax credit will be renewed but added his company is making plans for the credit’s demise. “Canada, Mexico and South America are pretty busy right now,” Hornaday said.
Wind was the largest recipient of taxpayer dollars and other energy generators don’t even come close. Coal, oil and gas can survive without subsidies. Wind and solar cannot. Take the subsidies away from wind energy and it is no longer financially viable. The question the wind energy industry will not answer is, “Can the wind industry survive if taxpayer subsidies disappear?”
The measure supports a bill pre-filed by State Sen. Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City). Williams' draft bill would require wind farm developers to get a permit from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. It would also establish height requirements, setbacks, and mandate that noise from turbines not exceed 50 decibels.
Patrick Buckley, development manager for Pioneer Green, on Tuesday told Etowah County commissioners that the company is not opposed to regulatory legislation, but the bill proposed by Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, is intended as a moratorium on wind energy development.
The bill, referred to as the Alabama Wind Energy Conversion Systems Act of 2014, would impose regulations for effective and efficient use of wind energy conversion systems and require them to be regulated by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
The plaintiffs allege that the Cash defendants “are enriching themselves by allowing the giant wind turbines to be placed on their property, but they are destroying the scenic beauty of the area surrounding the property, diminishing the property values in the area and destroying the way of life of the surrounding property owners.”
Patrick Buckley with Pioneer Green Energy, based in Austin, Texas, gave an update on the Cherokee Rock Village and Shinbone Ridge Wind Energy project during the recent October Breakfast meeting of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce.
The suit states that the company's plans to erect eight turbines in the county, projected at 570 feet tall, will not result in any substantial power because of the lack of potential wind energy in the area. This will result in the turbines eventually being abandoned, the suit claims. "There is little or no benefit to the public," it states.
Cherokee County residents have filed a lawsuit to block the proposed wind farm on Lookout Mountain, according to official court documents. This is the second suit filed against the developers, Pioneer Green Energy. Etowah County property owners who live near the proposed sites filed a similar lawsuit Aug. 1.