• Moratorium on wind projects is in the wind
    By
     | November 19,2012
     

    Sen. Bob Hartwell, a Democrat from Bennington County, and Sen. Joe Benning, a Republican from Caledonia County, are seeking to create a three-year moratorium on large-scale wind turbine projects.

    A two-year moratorium proposal failed in the Senate during the last legislative session, but Benning said a number of wind projects have come forth and support for moratoriums has been mounting across the state.

    A Legislative Council lawyer is drafting the bill, which could include setback requirements from projects to residences and also try to restrict the distance of transmission lines.

    “Energy is a commodity. It’s produced in-state and out-of-state,” said Benning, who has concerns over industrial-scale wind turbines on ridgelines.

    “They require tax incentives to be built and then they require enhanced rates in order to run them. Overall, the question hasn’t been asked ‘Why are we doing this?’” he said.

    “If we’re just trying to say, ‘We’re going green,’ that’s one thing, but if there’s a logic behind it as to why you’re spending this money and actually destroying your own image, you only want to do that in a case where you absolutely need to,” he said.

    House Speaker Shap Smith told VTDigger.org that legislators should wait for a siting commission’s report on the issue.

    “I’m told we have the numbers in the Senate,” Benning said.



    Elections spending

    In several key races, big spending for elections didn’t seem to sway races.

    In the race for governor, Republican candidate Randy Brock gave his campaign $300,000 in loans and spent $806,647, according to his campaign finance report.

    Gov. Peter Shumlin’s campaign only spent $320,761, and he still reported $932,975 cash on hand after the election.

    This month’s campaign finance reports were due Nov. 15.

    Lenore Broughton of Burlington gave $1,002,500 to the Vermonters First political action committee, which supported Republican candidates in local and statewide races with more than $952,000 in expenditures.

    The PAC put persistent efforts behind Republican candidate for state treasurer Wendy Wilton, who lost to incumbent Beth Pearce, a Democrat. Pearce also benefited from PAC spending, including support from the liberal Priorities PAC, which spent $27,330.

    Aside from PAC money, Wilton’s campaign raised $95,615 and spent $90,075. Pearce raised $246,540 and spent $219,708.

    Doug Hoffer, who won the race for auditor on the Democratic and Progressive party lines, raised $56,737 and spent $53,842. He loaned his campaign $10,000.

    Republican candidate Vince Illuzzi raised $91,287 and spent $92,287. His total in loans was $25,000.

    Attorney General William Sorrell, a Democrat, raised $177,733 and spent $164,082.

    Republican candidate Jack McMullen raised $58,667 and spent $202,284 through $153,716 in loans.

    Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, raised $185,915 and spent $127,364.

    His challenger, Cassandra Gekas, running on the Progressive and Democratic party lines, raised $49,595. Her campaign reported $41,264 in expenditures.

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