MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Two Vermont state senators called Thursday for legislation that would impose a three-year moratorium on large-scale wind power projects in the state and for a more thorough environmental review of energy projects.
Sen. Robert Hartwell, D-Bennington, said review by the Public Service Board, the three-member panel that considers proposed utility projects, is an inadequate process. He and Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, said the process does not allow for enough public participation.
The senators' move drew a flurry of press statements from environmental and renewable energy groups, saying a moratorium would be a job killer and would hurt Vermont's efforts to fight climate change by reducing carbon emissions.
Gov. Peter Shumlin, who would have to sign any bill imposing a moratorium or changing the way wind projects are reviewed, said at a news conference that he was cool to the ideas. The governor noted he recently appointed a special commission to look at the way Vermont reviews energy projects.
Projects like the large-scale wind power installations on Lowell Mountain in Lowell and in Sheffield are reviewed under state law designed to balance the need for energy versus environmental protection. Benning and Hartwell would have them reviewed instead under Act 250, in which a broader range of development projects are subject to what they maintain is more stringent environmental review.
"Let's hit the reset button and redefine this conversation in a way that makes sense," Benning said in an interview.