Senators Modify Renewable Energy Bill; House Takes Up Shoreline Protection

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Sen. David Zuckerman, P-Chittenden, reviews the energy and wind bill on the Senate floor in Montpelier.

By Kirk Carapezza

In what is seen as a major victory for wind proponents, the Vermont Senate has amended a bill that would have established a new, more rigid process for siting energy projects.

The amendment, which passed 16-14, effectively strips the legislation of its major policy goal: to grant local control over energy development, specifically ridgeline wind projects.

House lawmakers will debate a bill this week that would establish lake shoreland protection standards. They will also consider new taxes proposed by the Ways and Means Committee, including a half percent tax increase on rooms and meals.

On Monday, the House Appropriations Committee approved Governor Peter Shumlin’s plan to cap welfare benefits, known as Reach Up, at five years. Last year, the Department of Children and Families issued a report recommending against doing exactly that because the human and economic costs would be too high.

The House is set to debate the proposal when it considers a $1.3 billion budget package on Thursday and Friday.