Wind Bill Passes Senate

ImageLast week SB12 passed the Senate with a vote of 24-6.  As we mentioned last week, the substitute bill that passed included several positive changes. The original bill required strict ordinances for noise (limited to 40 decibels at property’s edge) and distance (2500 feet) from neighboring properties.  The bill in its final version requires noise levels be limited to 50 decibels, and the setback is now based on the height of the system, 5x the height of the system from its center to the edge of the residential or commercial building.  Neighboring properties are also allowed in this bill to waive those setbacks.  Also of note is that Cleburne County is exempted from the bill’s provisions.

While these requirements are still higher than most neighboring states, Conservation Alabama was pleased with the progress that was made in the bill’s amendments.  In its original form, SB12 would have prevented wind power in the state of Alabama.  With the amendments presented, many wind companies say they can enter Alabama to provide clean, sustainable wind energy to the region.  The bill will now go to the House, and Conservation Alabama will request that provisions also be added for wildlife protections where bird and other wildlife habitat could be at risk.

In addition to the passing of SB12, two local bills were introduced last week to regulate Wind Energy Conversion Systems in Etowah and Cherokee Counties.  SB402 and SB403, both introduced by Senator Williams, require similar restrictions to SB12 in its original form, including noise levels no higher than 40 decibels and setbacks of 2500 feet.   If passed, these bills would basically mean no wind power would be possible in these two counties.

HB475, a bill that would restrict local governments’ ability to control pollution into nearby waterways, made its way to the House Commerce Committee last week and could now make its way to the House floor for a vote. Conservation Alabama recently sent an action alert on behalf of Alabama Rivers Alliance and the Alabama Stormwater Partnership to oppose this bill.  Please visit our action page to ask your Representative to vote NO on HB475.

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