Officials limit permitting on wind energy projects

November 13, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

“I plead and I request for the people of Mason County for you to pass a moratorium today.”

Those were the words of Joe Pfeffer, spokesperson for the Citizens Voice of Mason County at Tuesday’s meeting of the Mason County Fiscal Court during discussion about a possible wind turbine farm in May’s Lick.

The wind turbines have been hotly debated between neighbors and county officials since word broke in May of several landowners signing leases with Duke Energy.

The project, if it becomes a reality, could see the construction of 26 to 100 turbines located in southeastern Mason County and northwest Fleming County.

What the CVMC group has wanted from the beginning is a moratorium to stop the project to allow sufficient time to address ordinance and zoning changes related to wind energy projects.

County officials have been discussing the matter of whether to send the issue to the Maysville-Mason County Joint Planning Commission since June or to go ahead and draft an ordinance under the power of the fiscal court.

The discussion on what step county commissioners need to do next took an hour before officials approved a resolution to halt the permitting and licensing process for any wind energy project in the county.

The resolution was suggested by Judge-Executive James L. “Buddy” Gallenstein, with the agreement of County Attorney John Estill after Pfeffer’s multiple requests to pass a moratorium, which were supported by documentation of other Kentucky communities that have imposed moratoriums.

Resolution 13-21 states: It is hereby resolved by the fiscal court of Mason County, Kentucky, that the county judge-executive, county road supervisor or any other officer or employee of the Mason Fiscal Court shall not grant or issue a license or permit for the use or crossing of any county road, right of way or other structure or property within the county maintained road system for the construction, operation or maintenance of any wind energy system or individual turbines or other structures within such project, and further that neither the county judge-executive nor any other county officer or employee shall grant an easement, enter into any other agreement, or otherwise give any permission for such use or crossing, until such time as the county considers and adopts an ordinance pertaining to wind energy facilities within Mason County.”

After approval of the resolution, Pfeffer again questioned why a moratorium couldn’t be put into place, saying “a moratorium gets to the point, it’s not vague. It tells people what you want to do.”

Gallenstein said the resolution will have the same effect, because for Duke Energy to construction turbines, permits and licenses will have to be secured through the fiscal court.

During discussion at the beginning of the meeting, Estill said the decision has been made not to hire James Madison University Professor Maria Papadakis, who was recommended by Dr. Glen Peters, secretary of the Kentucky Environmental Protection Cabinet. Papadakis is a professor in the JMU Department of Integrated Science and Technology with research interests in energy management and on-farm energy use. She was being considered as a consultant to the county on wind turbine regulation.  Estill clarified that although members of CVMC agreed to a process of working with a consultant during last month’s meeting, the group didn’t agree to hiring Papadakis.  The idea of hiring Papadakis was also tabled because she is not available until February.

Commissioners are also in favor of holding a public forum, lead by state EPC personnel on the issue of wind turbines; and consulting with elected officials of communities in West Virginia and Indiana that have implemented ordinances and zoning related to wind turbines.

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