Watch Out for WESRA Lite — Goodby Local Control of Wind Siting
The newest version of the Wind Energy Siting Reform Act, a WESRA lite, is now H.4112 – An Act relative to the development of wind siting standards. H.4112 is currently in the House Ways and Means committee.
This bill gives a state agency mostly appointed by the governor the authority to establish rules and regulations for the siting of onshore wind turbines.
Governor Patrick insists the bill allows local control, a point he made to the editors and reporters of the Berkshire Eagle, recently. ”The bill is all about local decision-making,” he added, “and it is about a clarity of path. It’s not about the state saying where these things go, it’s about a community deciding, with all the input it can bring to bear, whether a single turbine or a project in their community or neighboring communities makes sense so there’s some clarity about the end.”
The clarity of path, however, is the purpose behind the bill–written for wind development.
According to Eagle reporter Clarence Fanto, Lenox’s State Representative ”Smitty” Pignatelli finds the bill ”poorly written.” He said, “Personally, I hope it never gets out of committee.”
WESRA Lite gives a state agency, the Energy Facilities Siting Board, the power to make rules and regulations on turbine siting. Initially, the EFSB establishes an advisory panel to recommend standards under its direction. But if the advisory panel is not able to agree on standards recommendations, the EFSB can proceed to adopt whatever rules and regulations it wishes.
The EFSB acts with the approval of the governor’s political appointee, the Secretary of Energy & Environmental Affairs.
This bill gives the governor ultimate authority over the regulation of land-based wind facilities and associated transmission lines. The clearest fact about this bill is that it overrides local control.