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Barnstable County unveils draft regs for turbines  

Credit:  By Rich Eldred, Cape Codder, www.wickedlocal.com 28 February 2011 ~~

It’ll be much harder to site a wind turbine on Cape Cod if new rules proposed by Cape Cod Commission are adopted.

Not adopting rules “leaves us at the mercy of the state and what they want to do and no one wants that,” said Dennis Selectman Wayne Bergeron.

So commission members approved the proposed regulations last Thursday by a pair of 9-1 votes and they now go before the Assembly of Delegates.

Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative spokesman Liz Argo thought most of the proposed regulations were much too harsh.

“If the members truly believe in wind energy, then the DRI (development of regional impact) language should be rejected or amended,” she said as she read a detailed letter. “Towns and CVEC should be allowed to site municipal turbines without Cape Cod Commission review.”

“I will respond point by point on behalf of the commission because I find aspects of that letter to be shockingly inaccurate,” declared commission executive director Paul Niedzwiecki.

“We’re supposed to be in support of renewable energy. This goes in the complete opposite direction. These, particularly the flicker standards, are the most stringent on the planet,” complained Rich Elrick, energy coordinator for Barnstable and Bourne.

Others said the standards were too soft.

“I can’t remember the last time I had a good night’s sleep. I live 3,485 feet from Wind I in Falmouth,” said John Ford. “My blood pressure is off the charts. My sleep is disturbed four or five times a week. I have headaches, earaches.”

Ford and nearly all the audience speakers want stronger rules, longer setbacks and more reviews.

“I think any developer that wants to raise a 400-foot tower has a burden of proof to prove the absence of harm,” said Eric Bibler of Wellfleet. “(No developer) should stand before you and argue that making people sick and depriving them of sleep is mere annoyance.”

Any turbine taller than 65 feet to the tip of the turbine blade would be considered a DRI and would require a clear area 1.5 times the height (or greater if the manufacturer requires it) from the base.

If the turbine is larger than 660 kw (which translates to about a 241-foot high turbine with a blade diameter of 154-feet), it would require a setback of 10 times the rotor diameter to the nearest residentially zoned parcel or occupied dwelling. That’s equivalent to 1,540-feet in the case of a 660 kw turbine, such as Hull 1, which has been operating for nine years in that town with a minimal setback.

Brewster’s proposed 410-foot twin turbines would have a rotor diameter of about 262 feet so would require a 2,620-foot setback, or about half a mile – similar to what the Falmouth wastewater turbine would have needed had such a rule been in effect. A citizens petition article on the Brewster May town meeting warrant would create a mandatory setback of 1.2 miles.

Applicants for large turbine projects (660 kw or more) would also have to do a noise study and fund the Cape Cod Commission’s consultant review of the study. If the noise study demonstrates that noise levels, audible and inaudible, don’t pose a problem, the commission may approve a reduced setback.

All turbine projects 65 feet or more in size must conduct a shadow flicker study for any occupied dwelling that might be affected and would be required to draw up mitigation plans to limit any flicker to less than 10 hours a year.

Any turbine that doesn’t operate for 120 days will be dismantled by the owner/operator unless the commission grants a waiver. The applicant also has to provide financial security for decommissioning.

Municipalities can build one smaller turbine (less than 250 kw) with an exemption to the above rules (save for the clear area).

Developments near scenic areas should be clustered and minimize visibility.

Local towns can certify their own bylaws, and raise the cut-off point of 65 feet, and if those are certified by the commission, then turbines could avoid review if they stay under the new height.

After the testimony the commission voted 9-1 to approve the rules with Roger Putnam of Wellfleet voting “no” and seeking stronger regulation.

“What happened to the loveliest of all wind-powered creations we had, the clipper ships? They were replaced,” said Putnam. “Wind power is inefficient no matter how you slice it.”

Source:  By Rich Eldred, Cape Codder, www.wickedlocal.com 28 February 2011

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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