SOUTH WELLFLEET – The Cape Cod National Seashore has given up its plan to build a large-capacity wind turbine on a windy ocean bluff in North Truro after receiving a second denial from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Seashore officials had hoped to use the turbine to foot the park’s entire annual electric bill, which was $165,000 in fiscal year 2010, Seashore planner Lauren McKean said. The Seashore also aimed to harness wind to demonstrate that the 110-acre Atlantic Ocean property, an old Air Force station being converted to a nonprofit cultural campus, can provide its own energy.
The land-based turbine would have reached 334 feet from its base to the tip of its rotor blades, McKean said.
The decision disappointed Seashore officials.
“I think the FAA should have looked at it a little more carefully and looked at some options, in terms of size, for instance,” said Truro resident Brenda Boleyn, who is vice chairwoman of Seashore Advisory Commission.
The Seashore has studied several wind turbine options since it acquired the old North Truro Air Force Station in 1994. It now oversees development of the property as the Highlands Center arts, science and education complex.
The Seashore’s decision represents a win for opponents of larger wind turbines in the outermost Cape Cod towns of Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown. The Seashore and town governments have considered several wind power options but face obstacles such as siting and public reaction, officials in the four towns said this week.
Town officials in Truro and Wellfleet report a handful of smaller-scale wind turbines have either been installed on private properties or are under consideration by citizens for their own land. The Seashore also will still investigate using a 75-foot turbine to provide electricity for the park’s bathhouse at Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown, McKean said.
“I’m all for wind turbines, but the opposition is so strong,” said Eastham resident Fred Fenlon, the town’s representative to the Cape Light Compact, a Barnstable County agency that advocates for electricity consumers.
“It’s very difficult.”
The Seashore considered placing the proposed turbine at two locations at the old Air Force station: a former helicopter pad and a former ballfield, McKean said.
The FAA operates long-range radar to track civilian and military flights at a site a quarter of a mile north of the old Air Force station, and the FAA says the proposed wind turbine must be at least a half-mile away and preferably three miles, McKean said.
The FAA also rejected the turbine because the height of any structures located near a navigational beacon, which sends signals to planes from an ocean bluff a mile south of the old Air Force station, must not eclipse 240 feet above sea level, Seashore records state.
The Seashore first asked the FAA to consider the turbine in 2009.
The FAA denied the request in February and again in November after the park sought a consultant’s help to ask the FAA to reconsider, McKean said.
On Dec. 23, Seashore Supt. George Price wrote a letter to the Seashore Advisory Commission saying he had decided to drop pursuit of the turbine at Highlands Center, citing FAA’s “resistance” and the Seashore’s need to focus staff time and energy on developing the center.
Despite the denials, as far as the FAA is concerned, the issue isn’t dead.
The FAA says its determination is preliminary and it is waiting for Seashore officials to respond after considering their options, FAA regional spokesman Jim Peters said Friday.
But McKean said Seashore officials will now pursue other renewable energy options at the Highlands Center, such as solar panels and energy conservation.
Save Our Seashore president Eric Bibler cheered the proposed turbine’s demise.
“Utility-scale wind turbines are not appropriate in national parks, and like the proposed Wellfleet wind turbine, any such massive structures, towering hundreds of feet above the landscape, will significantly and unalterably affect the park’s viewshed and its historic character,” Bibler, a Weston, Conn., resident and frequent Cape Cod visitor, wrote in an e-mail to the Times.
Save Our Seashore, a citizens’ advocacy group, helped defeat a recent plan by the town of Wellfleet to install a 400-foot turbine on land near White Crest Beach.
The turbine in Wellfleet would have provided electricity for municipal buildings and also produce enough power to sell beyond the town’s borders. The Wellfleet Board of Selectmen stopped the project March 30 because board members objected to uncertainty about the economic benefits and the possible negative effects on views, the landscape and neighboring properties.
“We continue to be concerned that any successful attempts to industrialize the National Seashore in this manner could perhaps set a precedent for additional wind turbines on Cape Cod,” Bibler wrote.
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