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Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative appeals Brewster turbine denial

BREWSTER – Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative announced Monday night that it is appealing the Brewster Planning Board’s 3-3-1 vote, effectively denying a special permit for two wind turbines on town land off Freeman’s Way to the Department of Public Utilities. To approve or reject the permit, five votes out of seven are needed.

CVEC’s board of directors made the decision (by an 8-2-2 vote) during an executive session March 17, after the Brewster Planning Board’s vote Feb. 16. They’ve opted to “pursue the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities special permit exemption process,” authorized under Chapter 40A, Section 3 of Massachusetts General Law. The DPU has ruled that a wind energy facility is a “public service corporation” and thus eligible to apply for a zoning exemption under Chapter 40 Section 3.

The law states: “Lands or structures used, or to be used by a public service corporation may be exempted in particular respects from the operation of a zoning ordinance or bylaw,” after petitioning the DPU and after a public hearing in the town to determine the exemptions required, and if the proposed use (a wind turbine) “is reasonably necessary for the convenience or welfare of the public.”

Presumably, the $3.6 million Brewster could receive over 15 years and the energy produced suitably enhance the public welfare and convenience.
CVEC spokesman Maggie Downey noted there is a “three-threshold test”: 1. The applicant is a public service corporation; 2. There be a zoning denial; and 3. It meets the public benefits test.

“There is no time frame,” CVEC treasurer Mark Zielinski told selectmen Monday. “We’ve now charged our counsel with putting together the paperwork.”

“Thank you for all your work and all your efforts,” board of selectmen chairman Ed Lewis replied.

“It’s not something we’ve ever done before,” Zielinski said. “It’s an extensive process and a learning process for us.”

Mitch Relin, president of the Brewster Citizens for Responsible Energy, which is opposed to the project, promised to be involved in that process.

“They’re doing everything they can to get the project completed,” he noted.

“It wasn’t a real surprise. We will do whatever we can to make sure the DPU is aware of our concerns. It seems like the board of selectmen, in concert with CVEC, is going outside the town process that is in place and that seems appropriate, and that is disheartening.”