Senate panel passes legislation allowing Act 250 review of wind projects

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Senate panel passes legislation allowing Act 250 review of wind projects

Thu, 02/28/2013 - 10:16am -- tim

by Andrew Stein February 27, 2013 vtdigger.org Senators on Tuesday advanced a bill that would change how large wind and other energy generation projects are permitted in Vermont.
The Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee voted 4-1 to pass S.30 out of committee. Sen. Mark MacDonald, D-Orange, was the lone member to vote against the proposal.
The version of the bill does not include a moratorium of any sort on the development of large-scale wind projects, as the original bill did.
The revised bill requires the Public Service Board to ensure that projects conform with Act 250 criteria for siting energy projects larger than 500 kW.
Act 250 is the state’ s governing land-use law for most commercial development. Since Act 250 commissions, which enforce the law, rely heavily on town plans, this change to the quasi-judicial Public Service Board’ s process is meant to give towns more of a say over the application process for these projects.
The revised legislation also prohibits the construction of any commercial or electric generation projects on state forests. That provision was originally part of S.21.
The only major change from what the senators agreed on Monday is the allocation amount for a series of assessments. to read more about Monday’ s proceedings, click here. The price tag for those studies is now set at $75,000.
Under the bill, the Public Service Department will be charged with overseeing various assessments on the potential economic, health and environmental issues associated with large-scale wind generation plants. The report for that assessment would be due to the Legislature by Nov. 15.
The bill is next slated to hit the desks of the Senate Appropriations Committee, as it will need the committee’ s approval for the $75,000 allocation.