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Report of the Wind Advisory Committee to the Shelburne Falls Planning Board  

Author:  | General, Impacts, Massachusetts, Ordinances

Wind Turbine Systems for Premises Use: “Any system of turbines, whether located on the building or the ground, designed primarily to generate heat or electricity for the principal home or business located on the lot; such systems may generate a limited amount of excess electricity for resale to an electrical utility provided the system is designed principally to supply the electrical needs of the home or business on the lot.”

As written, the bylaw requires more detailed and specific interpretations for the Special Permitting Authority (now the Zoning Board of Appeals) to review, accept, or reject specific proposals for premises-use only wind turbine systems.

The WAC has been tasked by the PB to develop factual and educational material upon which it can draw when developing a more detailed premises use only bylaw. This Report summarizes that factual and educational material. When useful, the Report cites and paraphrases scientific research articles, research reported on web sites, investigations made by committee members and anecdotal evidence. Where useful, the Report makes recommendations to the PB, based upon the information that it has gathered and analyzed.

Date: October 7, 2013

Table of Contents

Part I. Operational and Technical Matters
Section 1: Technology – what devices are for sale now, what defines wind turbine?
Section 2: Small wind definition and efficiency studies
Section 3: Setbacks & height of wind turbines.
Section 4: Anticipated size of premises-use wind turbine systems

Part II. Impacts
Section 5: Impacts to climate, energy security, and economics
Section 6: Impacts to health (noise – infrasound, sound; flicker)
Section 7: Impacts to ecology (birds, bats)
Section 8: Visual nuisance impacts
Section 9: Safety considerations (ice, falling, blade throw, lightning etc.)

Part III. Legal considerations
Section 10: Robust ordinances – what are the elements of a good ordinance or bylaw?
Section 11: Complaint forms, how to manage subsequent problems if they arise
Section 12: Litigation that has arisen with premises-use turbines. Outcomes?

Section 13: Recommendations

Height Limit: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that any premises-use turbine does not exceed 120 feet from grade to the tip of the blade.

Capacity: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that the output of nameplate capacity be limited to 10 KW for residential and 30 KW for agricultural/business use.

Excess: In order to comply with the intent that the output be primarily for premises use, the Wind Advisory Committee recommends that the rated name capacity be restricted to the smallest unit available to cover the intended premises use.

Noise: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that the noise limit of any wind turbine shall not exceed 5 dB above ambient at any lot line and the nearest inhabited residence. The ambient level shall be established by the applicant prior to the submission of an application by a protocol to be determined.

Flicker: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that the By-law shall not allow any flicker affecting occupied buildings.

Aesthetics: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends to the Planning Board that they take visual impacts and property values considerations into account in the permitting process.

Setback: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that the setback be double the height of the blade tip from any roadway, structure, or property line.

Certification: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that any premises-use wind turbine must be an approved turbine on the list certified by the Small Wind Certification Council or other certification agency as approved by the State of Massachusetts.

One turbine per premise: The Wind Advisory Committee recommends that only one turbine be allowed per premises.

Download original document: “Report of the Wind Advisory Committee to the Shelburne Falls Planning Board

This article is the work of the author(s) indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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