posted on February 06, 2012 14:28
On the Genesee County Legislature’s docket for Wednesday night is a curious item: the Legislature is planning a protest against a law that has already passed.
Legislature Chair Mary Pat Hancock is hoping to send a formal statement to the capitol, railing against the “Power NY Act” (bills A08510 & S5844). The bill, which passed in Albany in 2011, is designed to begin a loan program for eligible homeowners to properly seal and power their home under green energy-efficiency standards. Hancock doesn’t have a problem with that.
But, another caveat of the bill also gives the state a quasi-eminent domain – theoretically allowing the state to place energy projects such as windmills or solar panels wherever it pleases.
Here’s how it works: under the new law, a seven-member “siting board” will entertain applications from large-scale parties interested in developing green energy. But that siting board will only carry two ad-hoc delegates from the local community, who will not cast any deciding vote. The other five, voting members would be appointed from a hodge-podge of state agencies.
Also, the application and review process has been drastically streamlined, requiring only a single application, a 60-day environmental review, and only one public hearing. After those, the five state-agency representatives make their decision.
“We would like to have the ability, as we have for the past two years (under a former bill), to have our own input as to the location,” says Hancock. She believes the voices of local governments will be drowned out in the name of state progress.
“Certainly, this has been a contentious issue in the past – and continues to be so, in some of our neighboring counties to the north and south,” says Hancock. “That particular piece of legislation passed very quickly; it does not respect the ‘home rule’ of the towns and the counties.”
Legislators have not yet written the memorialization. Hancock hopes to develop the language at the full meeting of the Legislature on Wednesday evening.