June 7, 2016

Vermont Governor Shumlin Considers Veto of Renewable Energy Bill

Lawmakers could return June 9 for special session

Gov. Peter Shumlin says he has not decided whether he can sign S. 230, a controversial bill amending rules around siting of large renewable energy projects.

Shumlin says language in the final version of the bill which passed on the last day of the session changed significantly and "there is internal debate" on what to do.

He would not spell out specific concerns but said Tuesday he will not sign anything he concludes will slow Vermont's progress on developing wind and renewable energy.

The bill would give local and regional communities more say in where projects can go and how the noise they generate is measured.

"We're still trying to figure out what it does," Shumlin said.

Citizens groups concerned about turbine noise jammed the Statehouse all session pressing for action.
If the governor vetoes the bill it will likely prompt lawmakers to return to the Statehouse for a special session on June 9.

House Speaker Shap Smith said he hopes the governor will sign or allow S. 230 to become law, but believes the wind siting bill is too important to let die.

"We can address the concerns raised relatively quickly," Smith said Tuesday. "And I believe we could get that done in a one-day session."

Smith would ask for cooperation from Republicans who wanted noise monitoring rules, and more say for local communities. Many GOP House members don't trust Shumlin, however, and think he's too cozy with wind proponents like Georgia Mountain turbine developer David Blittersdorf.

"We'll work with the majority to make necessary repairs," said Rep. Don Turner, the House GOP leader. "But if he wants to gut the whole bill to protect Blittersdorf, we're not going there."

Shumlin said he and his staff need more time to study S. 230.

"But I'm not going to sign any bill that hurts the progress we're making on renewables," the governor said.

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