by Melissa Vera
UPDATE: March 22, 2011 by George Prentice
Following two days of testimony the House State Affairs Committee voted to quash a proposed moratorium on wind power development.
With an 11-8 vote, lawmakers decided to leave any future plans for wind turbine projects up to county officials. Republican Rep. Erick Simpson of Idaho Falls had been hoping for a temporary timeout to wind energy development, saying his constituents were unhappy with the dozens of turbines that had popped up near their Eastern Idaho homes.
ORIGINAL POST: March 21, 2011 By Sheree Whiteley
Lawmakers spent a second day today (Monday) considering wind power in Idaho.
Republican Rep. Erik Simpson of Idaho Falls wants to put a two-year moratorium on new wind power projects.
"Energy developers are gaming the system," Simpson told Citydesk following this morning's hearing before the House State Affairs Committee.
Simpson said large corporations are taking advantage of the 1978 Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, requiring large power utilities to purchase electricity generated by renewable sources. Simpson testified that corporations, such as General Electric, were building mini wind farms, thus increasing the rates for everyone else.
A number of environmental groups also came out in force in support of a moratorium. Representatives from Idaho Conservation League and Western Watershed Projects suggested that renewable energy projects in Idaho were not being put in appropriate places.
CORRECTION: While the Idaho Conservation League expressed opposition to the moratorium, representatives from the ICL and Western Watershed Projects suggested that renewable energy projects in Idaho were not being put in appropriate places.
"Energy developments should focus on private or severely altered lands that are located close to points of use to minimize new disturbances or further fragmentation of fragile, native ecosystems," said Brian Ertz of WWP.
The House committee is expected to take up debate and a vote on the measure Tuesday or Wednesday.