Is an ill wind blowing toward Cape Cod Commission’s proposed wind regulations?
Tony Scalese, Brewster’s representative on the Assembly of Delegates, which now gets to vote on the proposed rules, thinks the reworked rules won’t pass.
On Feb. 17, the commission voted 9-1 to recommend a set of rules governing the construction of land-based wind turbines that would require all turbines taller than 65 feet to go before the commission as a development of regional impact, have a setback of 10 times the rotor diameter if the turbine is more powerful than 660 kilowatts, have noise studies for large turbines and limit the flicker to less than 10 hours a year.
There are mitigating circumstances for most of the above rules but the burden would be on the turbine developer to prove them sonically sound and capable of minimizing impact.
“The standards are not perfect but they’re not fixed,” Scalese told Brewster’s selectmen Monday night.
He expects the Assembly to take up the issue at its next meeting in April.
The Assembly’s votes are weighted. Scalese’s vote counts only for 4.54 percent, whereas the Falmouth vote counts for 14.5 percent and Barnstable’s for 21.52 percent. They rejected an earlier set of recommendations on turbines as not strong enough and asked for the new rules now before them, but Elizabeth Taylor, Brewster’s representative on the commission, said there has been turnover and sentiment may have shifted.
“The regulations look more like they’re starting to put a ban on wind turbines on Cape Cod than to promote wind energy,” Scalese observed.
“My sense is the regulations as written won’t pass the Assembly, but that could all change by the time the vote is taken. All of us really need to study this.”
One issue is the 65-foot cutoff point, which would force residential turbines before the commission.
“That’s something I objected to,” noted Taylor. “We’ve already permitted three residential turbines that would’ve had to go before the commission. And when you go before the commission, it takes time and it costs money.”
The commission staff is supposed to come up with a residential exemption but Taylor hasn’t seen it yet.
“The Cape as a region needs to come up with bylaws and thresholds for wind energy because if we don’t, it will be taken out of our hands and the state will do it,” Taylor said.
“If you want the alternative of local control – that would be the 15 towns,” Selectman Ed Lewis countered. “Our bylaw allows (home) turbines to be up to 130 feet. The commission is cutting that in half.”
Selectmen opted to add their name to a letter critical of the new rules joining Megan Amsler of Cape & Islands Self-Reliance Corp., Mass. Audubon, Richard Elrick, energy coordinator of Barnstable, Clean Power Now and the Barnstable Renewable Energy Commission.
“This is in a lot of ways a defacto ban and major damper on production (of wind energy),” noted Chris Powicki of the Brewster Energy Committee.
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