Bill would streamline wind turbine construction on preserved farmland

A bill released from the Assembly Telecommunications committee Thursday would pave the way for construction of wind turbines on preserved farmland.

The bill sponsored by Assemblyman Upendra Chivukula would require only limited minor site plan approval for the construction of turbines on land purchased under the state’s farmland preservation program, provided the placement and construction meet certain criteria.

Turbines would be restricted to one per 33 acres of land and would restrict placement to not within 750 feet of an occupied residential building.

Any installed turbines must provide energy or revenue by lease or contract directly to the landowner.

In order to combat one of the main criticisms of wind power- that turbines generate too much noise – the bill would require noise levels to remain below 55 decibels at the property line.  Any project that is larger in scale or that does not meet the requirements would still be suject to the current permitting process.

Amy Hansen, of the New Jersey Environmental Conservation Foundation, said her group opposed the bill because it was contrary to the intent of the Farmland Preservation program.

“This bill undermines the intent of the farmland preservation program,” Hansen said.  “Those farms were purchased with taxpayer dollars” and allowing development of wind turbines could turn the public against the program, she said.

Former Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner and current President of Swan Creek Energy Brad Campbell testified in favor of the bill, saying it would remove impediments now in place to the production of wind power.

Bill would streamline wind turbine construction on preserved farmland