Cherokee County Commission endorses proposed wind farm regulations – The Huntsville Times

January 15, 2014 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Wind Energy Eagle DeathsWindmills lining the Altamont Pass generate electricity on Sunday, May 12, 2013, near Livermore, Calif. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

CENTRE, Alabama –The Cherokee County Commission yesterday adopted a resolution supporting regulations on wind energy farms in Alabama.

County Commission Chairman Kirk Day was not at the meeting, but is expected to sign it later this week. The other members of the commission voted to approve the resolution.

The measure supports
a bill pre-filed by State Sen. Phil Williams (R-Rainbow City). Williams’ draft bill
would require wind farm developers to get a permit from the Alabama
Department of Environmental Management. It would also establish height
requirements, setbacks, and mandate that noise from turbines not exceed
50 decibels. It would also require any turbine which stays
inactive for more than one year to be removed by the system’s operator. 

The commission’s resolution mentions “a major project that would impact our entire region with no approval from local governing authorities.” It is similar to a resolution passed in October by the Gadsden City Council.

Williams’ bill was inspired, in large measure, by a proposed wind farm project by Pioneer Green Energy that would stretch from Etowah to Cherokee County. Pioneer Green officials say new technology will allow windmill farms to
flourish in the Southeast, a part of the nation that has seen very
little wind energy development.

The company announced last year that it has acquired all the land rights it needs for the project to proceed. A group of landowners is currently suing to stop the project. An opposition group has also been working against the windmill farms, saying they will spoil the natural beauty and property values of the area.

Patrick Buckley, development manager for the Texas-based wind turbine
developer, said late last year the company is still moving forward with the
projects, but that both have been pushed back due to time needed to
secure permits and agreements with utilities which would purchase the
power generated.

Buckley said following a meeting of the Etowah County Commission that
the $40 million Cherokee County project, which calls for seven to eight
turbines, probably would not begin construction until 2015. The larger
Etowah County project, which has a projected 30 to 45 turbines costing
$160 million, probably would begin no earlier than the end of 2015.

Buckley said Williams’ proposed bill would make wind energy developments “near
impossible” through overly stringent regulations. In an official statement from
the company, Pioneer Green said, “We feel this bill is actually intended to be
a moratorium on wind energy development.”

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