Jun 26, 2013

Maine Legislature finishes work on windpower reform bills

Here's a summary of the windpower reform  related bills that the Maine legislature considered during the just ending 2012/2013 session
Source  Friends of Maine Mountains

The 126th Legislature cleared away the last of bills that proposed to make changes to Maine's wind power siting law. We're in our sixth year of a law that has been problematic ever since it was enacted, but the Legislature has once again refused to make any meaningful changes to it. Following are a few notes on the results of each of these bills.

LD 616An Act To Amend the Expedited Permitting Area for Wind Energy Development under the Jurisdiction of the Maine Land Use Planning Commission.
STATUS: Committed back to the Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology.
LD 616 would reform to the 2008 Wind Energy Act. It received a bipartisan majority report from the EUT Committee and passed the House of Representatives with relative ease. However,  the Maine Senate mkajority leadership voted to send it back to the Energy and Untilities Committee, instead of lettering rather than allowing the Senate to vote on the bill, the majority leadership moved to send it back to the EUT Committee. The motion passed on a largely partisan vote with only one Democratic legislator voting to address the issue in this session.

It was a purely strategic move to avoid any chance of making a change to current wind power siting law. Energy Office Director, Patrick Woodcock, said, "It was another tactic to retain the status quo."

When the legislature reconvenes for the second session, it's probable that there will be pressure to kill the bill's provisions or at least make them more wind industry-friendly.

Click here to see breakdowns for the House and Senate votes. Also, please consider thanking those legislators who cast votes in favor of LD 616.

"Rural citizens lose battle to have a say in wind tower rezoning" - Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting

LD 247An Act To Amend the Law Governing Appeals of Final Agency Action on Applications Concerning Wind Energy Development.
STATUS: Dead. Unanimous Ought Not To Pass in EUT Committee.

LD 385An Act To Improve Wind Energy Development Permitting.
STATUS: Passed to be enacted. Not yet signed by the governor as of 6/24/13.

From a practical standpoint, the original version of this bill proposed few changes that would have been noticeable under current patterns of development. The version that passed was amended under the guidance of wind industry representatives and does even less than the original. LD 385 originated with groups advocating wind development including the Natural Resources Council of Maine and Maine Audubon. These groups were among those that crafted the current law that has been so troublesome.

LD 1061An Act To Regulate Meteorological Data-gathering Towers in Maine.
STATUS: Dead. Unanimous 
Ought Not To Pass in EUT Committee.

LD 1147An Act To Protect Maine's Scenic Character.
STATUS: Referred to Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology.
In an unusual move, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee voted to refer this bill to the EUT Committee after the public hearing had already taken place. This means the EUT Committee never heard the testimony given by supporters of the bill. Several ENR Committee members objected to the Committee majority's action on the grounds that it was unfair to the supporters of the citizens who brought the bill to the Legislature. The bill will be passed into the next session.

LD 1323An Act Regarding Wind Power Siting in the Unorganized Territory.
STATUS: Referred to Joint Standing Committee on Energy, Utilities and Technology.
This bill followed the same path as LD 1147 above.

LD 1325Resolve, To Place a Temporary Suspension on Permitting of Certain Expedited Grid-scale Wind Energy Developments.
STATUS: Dead. Divided report from EUT Committee. Killed by Senate and House votes.

LD 1375An Act To Enhance Maine's Economy and Environment.
STATUS: Dead. Unanimous 
Ought Not To Pass in EUT Committee.

LD 1434An Act To Clarify the Laws Governing Noise from Wind Turbines
STATUS: Carried over to next session.

The parties involved in this bill will be attempting to work out a solution before the next session in order to eliminate the need for the bill.

LD 1471An Act Authorizing the Board of Environmental Protection To Modify a License for a Wind Energy Development.
STATUS: Dead. Unanimous 
Ought Not To Pass in EUT Committee.

Thank you.

No comments: