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Developer scraps Fairhaven cluster of Buzzards Bay wind project

Developers of a proposed trio of wind farms in Buzzards Bay have dropped part of the project planned off the Fairhaven shoreline, citing the area’s high boat traffic and population of endangered roseate terns.

Patriot Renewables, LLC, a Quincy firm affiliated with Jay Cashman Inc., announced the decision Monday to end plans for the cluster of turbines off Fairhaven in the area south of Sconticut Neck and West Island.

Patriot Renewables continues to study two other Buzzards Bay locations – off Dartmouth and Naushon Island, one of the Elizabeth Islands.

Liz Isherwood, a spokeswoman for Patriot Renewables, said the firm’s goal would continue to be to develop a project that would generate 300 megawatts of electricity. Instead of the three locations for up to 120 wind turbines, there would be two.

Ms. Isherwood said the power lost from one of the three clusters could be made up in different ways, including using larger generating turbines or more turbines in a cluster.

Patriot Renewables is one of several firms working on plans to generate electricity off the Massachusetts coast. Most of the projects that have developed specific proposals have run afoul of residents, environmentalists or others for reasons including views, noise, boat traffic and birds.

In a prepared statement Monday, Patriot Renewables said that “based on results of ongoing environmental studies for the South Coast Offshore Wind Project, it has decided to eliminate Study Area 1 located off of West Island” in Fairhaven. The firm has been studying the area in Buzzards Bay since 2005.

“It has become apparent that the study area offshore of Fairhaven and West Island is not an ideal site for wind turbines,” Mr. Cashman is quoted as saying in the statement. He said the decision was intended “to avoid negative avian impacts; our avian studies to date indicate that there is a higher concentration of roseate terns in that area of the Bay because of its proximity to Bird and Ram islands.”

In addition, the statement said, there is a higher concentration of boat traffic as boats move from New Bedford Harbor to the Cape Cod Canal or Woods Hole.

Ms. Isherwood said Patriot Renewables will continue studying the other two areas and expects to report its findings to the public during the summer.

State Rep. William M. Straus, D-Mattapoisett, who represents Fairhaven and who has been an opponent of the Patriot Renewables plan for Buzzards Bay, said the announcement was “not unexpected.”

“They were told in comments that came in over a year ago” that both the avian life and commercial and private boat traffic through the area presented problems, Mr. Straus said.

“The area never should have been under consideration,” he said. “I am very happy this part of Buzzards Bay will remain natural.”

By Joe Cohen
Standard-Times staff writer


5 May 2008