BOURNE – In choosing to withdraw and refile their plans for a wind project in Bournedale, New Generation Wind officials could be inviting more scrutiny than during their first go-round with town and county regulators.
On Tuesday, the project’s partners – the Lorusso family and the Panhandle Trust – removed plans for seven wind turbines in Bournedale from consideration by the Cape Cod Commission and the town’s planning board. They plan to refile soon, they said.
But with a town meeting article to amend Bourne’s wind turbine bylaws on the agenda for May and new turbine regulations proposed at the county level, the project’s second chance could face challenges.
“It will be amazing if they can get that project under the new regulations,” Bourne Town Planner Coreen Moore said.
In February, a group of Bourne residents successfully placed an article on the town meeting warrant asking voters to amend the town’s turbine bylaws and make them stricter.
“Our group is Citizens for Responsible Energy. That’s the key phrase, responsible,” said John Riha, whose home is 1,350 feet from the site of one of the proposed turbines. “(Turbines) should not be near residences, bottom line.”
The amendments, which must receive a two-thirds majority vote to pass, could disqualify the New Generation project as it was originally proposed, planning board secretary Ann Gratis said.
The changes would affect New Generation unless it had its town special permit already in hand, which is unlikely because it must receive Cape Cod Commission approval before a town review begins, Moore said.
While the backers know of the article, they are not worried, New Generation spokesman Greg O’Brien of the Stony Brook Group said.
“Are we aware of it? Yes. Does it change our passion or commitment to this project? In no way,” he said. “This is a town that has demonstrated, in previous town meetings, support for turbines.”
In May, voters approved the current bylaw allowing commercial-grade turbines in Bourne.
The decision to withdraw plans had “no connection” to the petition article, O’Brien said.
In its letter to the county regulatory board, New Generation Wind questioned the fairness of the review because commission subcommittee reviewing the project had dwindled from five members and two alternates to three members at its last meeting in February.
If New Generation doesn’t refile in the next few weeks, things could get even more complicated for them at the commission. The agency is mulling changes to its energy regulations to include specific rules about wind turbines, commission planner Ryan Christenberry said.
Those regulations would include limits on noise and shadow flicker and would require a cleared area around each turbine, she said.
The county regulatory board voted in February to approve the rules and is now awaiting a vote on them by the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates, she said.
If New Generation Wind refiles before April, when the assembly is scheduled to vote, the project would be considered under current rules, Christenberry said.
O’Brien said he hopes people – including those at the county and town reviewing the project – won’t fall victim to the “misinformation” about turbines that has circulated during public discussions. And a bill being proposed at the state level could combat that conflicting information.
In January, state Rep. Susan Williams Gifford, R-Wareham, filed a bill to create a commission to study the effects of wind turbines on nearby residents’ health.
Gifford’s district includes several precincts in Bourne that would be affected by the turbine project, she said.
The bill reflects the concerns of many areas of the state where land-based turbines are being considered, she said.
“Before we rush into doing these massive projects, let’s make sure that we have the best interests of the people of the commonwealth at heart first,” Gifford said. “Then we can move forward.”
Another state bill, filed by state Rep. Demetrius Atsalis, D-Barnstable, proposes requiring a 3,000-foot buffer between turbines and homes, according to the state House of Representatives’ website.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding