Department of Public Service

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Lawmakers craft replacement language for vetoed energy siting bill

MONTPELIER — Key lawmakers have drafted replacement language for an energy siting bill vetoed by Gov. Peter Shumlin on Monday they hope will be passed during a legislative veto session on Thursday to fix issues he identified in his veto message. Shumlin, a Democrat who is not seeking a fourth two-year term, vetoed S.230 Monday over concerns that language approved on the final day of the legislative session would have unintended consequences. He said the emergency rule-making process called for in the bill for new wind turbine sound standards unintentionally invokes a provision in statute that would make Vermont the first state in the country to declare a public health emergency around wind energy “without peer-reviewed science backing that assertion up.”

Additionally, Shumlin said new temporary sound standards for wind turbines “unintentionally relies on a standard used in a small 150 kilowatt project as the standard for all wind” projects, which “could have the clearly unintended effect of pushing wind projects closer to homes where the background noise is higher.” Another provision in the bill requires notice of certificates of public good for energy projects on parcels of land to be filed with land records. He said that “could create problems for residential solar customers when they go to sell their home.”

The fourth concern deals with money. Under the bill, regional planning commissions are supposed to help municipalities develop local energy plans that conform to the state’s energy goals. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin vetoes energy siting bill

MONTPELIER — Gov. Peter Shumlin has vetoed a controversial energy siting bill, triggering a special legislative veto session on Thursday where lawmakers can try to override his rejection or look to fix the portions he finds unacceptable and send it back. The legislation, S.230, was passed by lawmakers on the final day of the legislative session last month after last-minute wrangling by House and Senate negotiators and the Shumlin administration. It seeks to provide local communities with more say over the siting of renewable energy projects if they craft their own energy plans that are approved by the Department of Public Service. It also seeks to create sound restrictions for wind generation projects. The governor, a Democrat, said the bill would hurt the state’s renewable energy progress, which he said has created more than 17,000 jobs in Vermont. Continue Reading →

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Entergy rejects trust fund withdrawal objections

MONTPELIER — The state of Vermont is ramping up its fight with Entergy Nuclear over Vermont Yankee’s shrinking $600 million decommissioning trust fund. The attorney general’s office, along with the Department of Public Service, filed a petition last week with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, asking for a federal “comprehensive review” into how Entergy is spending the fund, which was $675 million a year ago. Yankee shut down Dec. 29, 2014, and Entergy has made regular withdrawals since then. Entergy estimated a year ago it would cost $1.2 billion in 2014 dollars to decommissioning the reactor. Continue Reading →

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Dubie emerges with wind concerns

MONTPELIER — Former Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie, who was a strong proponent of wind power during his government service, is now speaking out on behalf of residents who are concerned about the noise generated by turbines in Sheffield and at proposed sites in the future. Dubie, who served from 2003 to 2011 and lost a close gubernatorial election to Gov. Peter Shumlin in 2010, still supports wind power as an alternative energy source for Vermont. The commercial airline pilot said he’s not looking to re-enter Vermont’s political scene. But he is choosing to speak out now on behalf of his neighbors in Franklin County that could soon be impacted by turbine noise. Additionally, there is a proposed wind project in Swanton — just under a mile from Dubie’s home — that would generate up to 20 megawatts of power from as many as seven wind turbines that are 500 feet tall. Continue Reading →

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