Former Act 250 administrator: Industrial wind energy projects need higher regulatory scrutiny

Vermont’s Act 250, created in 1969, established a permitting process to review the impact of development on communities and the environment. However, electricity generation and transmission projects were exempt from the law, falling instead under Section 248, a less rigorous approval process for energy projects overseen by the Vermont Public Utility Commission.

Many qualifications used for Act 250 have since been carried over to Section 248, but there are still gaps in the criteria and enforcement, which many citizens say are causing negative impacts on the ecosystem and overall quality of life.

In this episode of Vote for Vermont, co-hosts Pat McDonald and Ben Kinsley speak with Ed Stanak, former Act 250 administrator and former District 5 coordinator, to discuss wind development’s exemption from Act 250 environmental impact assessments.

Stanak said there is a growing effort to place alternative energy projects under Act 250 review, such as wind towers that carry an environmental and social impact. He said they can cause drastic disruption to delicate ecosystems of high elevation, and in some cases even cause negative psychological issues affecting the day-to-day lives of those who live around them.

Stanak said he’d like to see a synchronization of an Act 250 review with the Public Utility Commission’s Section 248 review. He also wonders if wind towers are beneficial enough to go through the less restrictive process, or be subject to the higher scrutiny of Act 250 review.

Watch full episode:

Image courtesy of Vote for Vermont/Pat McDonald
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