Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Renewable Energy Law News - Week of March 19

Photo via Flickr

Vermont House votes to pursue renewable energy

MONTPELIER -- With summer temperatures in Vermont on the first day of spring, House members gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a bill to address climate change.

"We see its evidence everywhere and we see it at an ever increasing rate," Rep. Margaret Cheney said on the House floor while the thermometer reached 75 degrees outside.

The Norwich Democrat described a bill that sets a goal that Vermont get 75 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2032. It calls for a renewable portfolio standard, in which the state’s utilities would be required to get increasing amounts of the power they sell from green sources over the next 20 years.

The measure received preliminary approval on a voice vote. It is up for final House approval Wednesday before moving to the Senate.

Cheney said the bill is not ambitious enough for some environmentalists, but said the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, of which she is vice chairwoman, tried to balance environmental and economic concerns. 

Wisconsin Wind Siting Rules Effective March 16

After years of uncertainty, the Wisconsin legislature allowed statewide wind energy siting rules to go into effect today. The new rules (known as “PSC 128”) require wind turbines to be located at least 1,250 feet from the nearest residence and at a distance 1.1 times the height of the wind turbine from the nearest property line. Cities, villages, towns, and counties are prohibited from enacting an ordinance imposing more restrictive requirements than the statewide rules.

In 2009, the legislature directed the Wisconsin Public Service Commission (“PSC”) to develop rules that limit the restrictions local governments may impose on wind energy projects. The purpose of these rules was to ensure consistent local procedures and regulation of wind energy. On December 27, 2010, the PSC adopted the final wind energy siting rules (Wisc. Admin. Code Ch. PSC 128). But on March 1, 2011, the day the rules were to take effect, the legislature’s Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules voted to suspend PSC 128. This year, the legislature considered a proposal to indefinitely suspend the rules, but adjourned yesterday without taking action. As a result, PSC 128 automatically became effective today.

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