Turbines on preserved farmland remains key issue on clean energy bill

TRENTON – The sponsor of a bill to promote wind energy projects on farms said the bill was held today in the Senate Energy Committee for one main reason.

The bill, S2887, which would provide for turbines on farmland, was held from consideration until a later date primarily over concerns about how the issue of turbines on preserved farmland will be perceived, Sen. Bob Smith, (D-17), Piscataway, said.

Although Smith said that the total amount of preserved farmland statewide that could be affected is roughly 2 acres, he said that with elections drawing near, there is some nervousness about how the public would react to such a provision in the environmental bill.

Several witnesses testified that there is concern over how the public would react to seeing farms, preserved with public monies, being used for commercial enterprises such as wind turbines.

Jeff Tittel of the N.J. Sierra Club said that although the bill promotes clean energy, there is a concern over how those 40-foot-diameter turbines will be viewed by some members of the public, especially in some counties that have traditionally been reluctant to approve public funds to preserve private land to begin with.

Smith said, laughing, “I guess I should know better than to bring anything too controversial up too close to an election.’’

He said that the hearing on the bill remains open and the bill will be dealt with at a later date.

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Farmland wind energy bill held in committee