House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, who many on SouthCoast contend aided developer Jay Cashman’s effort to sprinkle giant wind turbines across Buzzards Bay, went out on the water Wednesday to look at ground zero.
Returning to land, he said he remains committed to strongly pushing for renewable energy alternatives, including wind turbine farms, as the state faces an energy crisis, but he acknowledged there needs to be a rigorous review process of any wind turbine proposals and, after touring off the coast of South Dartmouth, said that that area might not be the best location.
He said any plans for would have to be looked at in the context of making “sure to protect the environment.”
Energy is a huge business issue in the state, and wind turbines have the advantage of providing clean energy; it will be a “balancing test” to determine the right course of action, he said.
The powerful House speaker had been invited on the bay tour from Padanaram by Rep. John F. Quinn, D-Dartmouth. They were accompanied by others from the area’s legislative delegation.
Rep. Quinn said the turbines could have a potentially serious impact on quality of life for those living along the water as well as impacts on shipping and fishing. He said he invited Rep. DiMasi to view the location because it is highly visible from land and could potentially cause noise and other problems.
Rep. Quinn said travel and tourism attracting people from around the world are among the top industries in the state and construction of unsightly wind farms in Buzzards Bay could have serious economic consequences.
Rep. DiMasi has been accused of slipping a controversial amendment that critics said would open up Buzzards Bay to unlimited wind turbine development into a House energy bill late last year, with some legislators saying at the time they were unaware they had voted in favor of it.
While the amendment could benefit Mr. Cashman – a Boston developer and close personal friend of Rep. DiMasi, whose Patriot Renewables firm, based in Quincy, has proposed a plan for dozens of wind turbines to be built in Buzzards Bay – the speaker’s office has denied it was done to help Mr. Cashman.
Opponents of the plan have fought on several fronts, including arguing that bird life could be negatively affected.
Virtually everyone who accompanied Reps. DiMasi and Quinn returned from the boat trip without having changed their opinions.
Rep. Michael J. Rodrigues, D-Westport, said he favors the plan. “I want to look out and see wind turbines, not oil tankers.”
Rep. William M. Straus, D-Mattapoisett, an opponent of the development, said there remains substantial opposition to the plans, and bird studies have supported the opposition’s arguments.
By Joe Cohen
Standard-Times staff writer
10 April 2008