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Siting, laws fueling wind turbine debate  

To allow, or not to allow five 420-foot wind turbines to be built on West Hill? That’s the question.

In 2006, Savoy wind power was the issue that cleaved the town into neat halves: those who support the local project to boost tax revenue and build renewable energy and those who think the turbines will be ugly and a detriment to the environment and property values.

Last year’s series of informational town meetings, which were attended by residents and Minuteman Wind, the Waltham-based company that proposed the Savoy project, did little more than exacerbate the feelings of distrust and frustration within the town.

For the project to move forward, Savoy must draft a bylaw that outlines the size, lighting and overall appearance of the turbines; in the current draft, the bylaws restrict the height of the turbines to 350 feet, well below Minuteman’s proposed turbine height of 420 feet.

The slow, cautious progress toward a final draft of the town’s wind power bylaw will most likely hobble Minuteman Wind’s time line; the company had hoped the turbines would be up and running in 2007.

Bylaws expected this summer

Jamie Reinhardt, chairman of Savoy’s Planning Board, said he hopes the town will have bylaws approved and in place this summer.

“We’re planning on having another open meeting for the town in March or early April,” he said in a recent interview.

After two years of fervor about wind power in Berkshire County, it seems that Savoy’s project, along with similar ones in Hancock and Florida – the former under construction and the latter still awaiting permit approval – have lost a significant amount of momentum. As Savoy residents’ tempers cooled over the course of last fall, and bylaw planning meetings were attended by fewer and fewer concerned residents, it appeared that the initial energy propelling the project was cooling as well.

Still, despite the snail’s pace, Reinhardt thinks wind power will remain in the spotlight in 2007.

“I find it very difficult to believe that Minuteman Wind will simply go away,” he said.

By Jessica Willis, Berkshire Eagle Staff

berkshireeagle.com

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

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