Governor Deval Patrick in neighboring Massachusetts has set a specific target of putting in place 2,000 megawatts of wind power in the state by 2020.
To further the state’s use of renewables it passed legislation last year known as the “Green Communities Act”. Part of that legislation contemplates a statewide review of siting laws to determine whether they hinder development of renewable energy in the state.
Siting review provision of the Green Communities Act below:
SECTION 89. There shall be a commission which shall study the siting of energy facilities in the commonwealth. The study shall include, but not be limited to, the following: (a) the development of a procedure for coordinating and consolidating applications to construct generating facilities between and among the energy facilities siting board, the department of environmental protection and other appropriate agencies, to enable one-stop shopping for necessary permits or certificates or other appropriate streamlining of the permitting system; (b) the expansion of such coordinated procedures to other energy facilities, if appropriate; (c) possible changes to the energy facilities siting board’s procedures for reviewing electric and gas transmission lines in light of recent and proposed changes in the structure and regulation of the electric and gas industries, including regional approaches to the siting of such facilities; (d) clarification of the energy facilities siting board’s jurisdiction over the re-powering of existing generating facilities at existing sites and the appropriate standards for reviewing such re-powerings; (e) the development of coordinated procedures to examine the reuse of existing industrial sites for the development of generating facilities; (f) the issue of application fees paid by developers to the energy facilities siting board and the correlation of such fees to the board’s procedures, as statutorily revised under this act, in reviewing such applications; provided, however, that the study shall include, but not be limited to, recommendations, if any, on reducing the application fee paid by developers to the board in light of the board’s statutorily revised standards of review of such applications under this act; (g) the establishment of a site characterization and suitability commission within the department of environmental protection, which would promulgate criteria to be applied to sites included in an application before the energy facilities siting board and rule on suitability of a proposed site as before the application is approved; and (h) the possibility of requiring applicants to provide either (1) evidence that the proposed facility would employ the best available and most efficient technology to control and reduce water withdrawals, or (2) a description of the environmental impacts, costs and reliability of the water withdrawal method chosen and an explanation of why the proposed technology was chosen; (i) whether current laws and regulations do not adequately facilitate the siting of renewable and alternative energy facilities, or whether they make it more difficult to site renewable energy facilities than fossil-fueled energy facilities, and, if either is the case, to make recommendations for changes to such laws and regulations; and (j) whether renewable and alternative energy generating facilities other than a waste-to-energy facility should be allowed as of right on property zoned for industrial use.
The commission shall consist of the secretary of energy and environmental affairs or a designee, who shall be the chair of the commission; the secretary of housing and economic development or a designee; the commissioner of energy resources or a designee; the commissioner of environmental protection or a designee; the commissioner of conservation and recreation or a designee; the director of coastal zone management or a designee; the director of the department of fish and game or a designee; 1 member of the energy facilities siting board; 3 members of the house of representatives, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the house minority leader; 3 members of the senate, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the senate minority leader; 1 representative of the gas industry; and 2 representatives of ratepayers, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the speaker of the house and 1 of whom shall be appointed by the senate president; and the following members who shall be appointed by the chair of the commission: 1 municipal official to be nominated by the Massachusetts Municipal Association; 2 representatives of environmental organizations, 1 of which shall be a land and water conservation organization; 2 representatives of the alternative and renewable energy industry; 1 representative of the electric industry; and 2 representatives to be nominated by the AFL – CIO . The commission shall file a report with its finding, including any legislative and regulatory recommendations, with the clerks of the senate and house of representatives, the joint committee on telecommunications, utilities and energy and the senate and house committees on ways and means not later than 18 months after the effective date of this act.