Joyce Votes to Set New Standards and Cut Red Tape for Locating Land-Based Wind Energy Facilities

BOSTON – Senator Brian A. Joyce on Thursday helped advance the Senate’s renewable energy agenda for the Commonwealth by voting for legislation that will untangle current rules and regulations that make it difficult to site land-based wind energy facilities.
“We’ve got to get a handle on the siting process,” Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) said. “We can talk about renewable energy all we want, but unless we have clearly defined standards and an efficient way of implementing new technology, we will remain dependent on fossil fuels longer than we wanted. This legislation will help us move more quickly toward our goals.”
Senator Michael Morrissey (D-Quincy), Senate chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy, said: “This bill is an attempt to streamline the existing siting process to help the Commonwealth meet its renewable energy goals and decrease our dependence on traditional fossil fuels. It creates balanced and reasonable siting process timelines as it allows input and approval from the local bodies.”
The Executive Office of Environmental and Energy Affairs supports the legislation.
"I commend Senate President Murray, along with Senator Morrissey and others, for their outstanding leadership in tackling this issue," said Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles. "Siting reform for wind power was the principal unfinished business left after the historic clean energy accomplishments of last legislative session. Passage of this landmark legislation will send a strong message that the Commonwealth is serious about wind power and the green jobs, energy savings and environmental benefits that come with it."
The legislation continues the work started in the state’s landmark Green Communities Act of 2008. Under that law, a commission was charged with reviewing existing policies for locating renewable energy resources.
Acting on the commission’s initial findings, the new Senate bill requires an advisory group to develop clear and predictable siting standards through the Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB) with input from state departments, regional commissions and environmental groups.
Under this legislation, the EFSB can authorize a streamlined and comprehensive permitting process for wind facilities of 2 mega-watts of power or more that need state permits. The bill also establishes a local-level process for wind facilities of 2 mega-watts or more through a wind energy board comprised of relevant local commissions allowing for appeals to the EFSB.
The new permitting process eliminates the need for multiple permit applications from separate agencies for a single project, instead creating a one-stop review and permit. Projects under 2 mega-watts would follow existing guidelines and procedures.
Municipalities that approve wind projects may also be eligible for certain financial benefits under this legislation.
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.