Local wind bills passed, SB12 in committee this week
Last week local bills passed for both Cherokee and Etowah counties that would regulate Wind Energy Conversion systems in both of these counties. These local bills contain language from the original version of Senate Bill 12 and impose strict regulations on wind energy providers. SB402 and SB403 require noise levels of no more than 40 decibels, setbacks of 2500 feet from the center of the device to the nearest property’s edge and permission from the local governing body before installing wind turbines that provide power for resale. Due to the level of restrictions these bills impose, their passage means there is little chance of any wind projects in those two counties.
In addition to the passage of these local bills, Senate Bill 12 makes its way to the House committee on Commerce and Small Business on Wednesday for a public hearing. In its current form, SB12 is much less restrictive than the local bills passed last week. The noise levels were increased to 50 decibels and setbacks are now 5 times the height of the system from its center to the edge of the nearest commercial or residential building. SB12 also allows for neighboring properties to waive these setbacks and eliminates Cleburne county altogether.
However, SB12 still provides no protections for birds and other wildlife. Conservation Alabama is working with partners at Birmingham Audubon to include language for both land based and offshore protections in wildlife corridors.