The winds of change are in the air for the controversial Bog Wind project. After months of compelling testimony from opponents, developer Glen Berkowitz of Boston-based Beaufort Windpower LLC is announcing a drastic downsizing of the company’s proposal.
Berkowitz said the plan was revised to address concerns residents voiced during recent public hearings on the proposal before the Board of Zoning of Appeals. The plan calls for fewer, smaller turbines that will be moved farther away from residences.
The scaled back plan will differ in three main areas:
Reducing the number of turbines
One of the most noticeable differences to the plan is the number of turbines being proposed. The new plan calls for two turbines, instead of six. The turbines would be built on three cranberry bogs adjacent to Charge Pond Road, eliminating tower #5 from that site and removing all the proposed towers near Blackmore Pond Road.
This is the second time in less than a year the Bog Wind project has been voluntary downsized. In September, Berkowitz proposed building six turbines on five cranberry bogs, reduced from eight turbines on five cranberry bogs.
The bogs are privately owned and operated by cranberry farmers who will allow Beaufort Windpower to build the turbines on their land.
Decreasing turbine height and blade length
The revised plan reduces turbine height nearly 100 feet. The turbines would now stand 398 feet. Its “swept area,” the circle formed by the blades of the turbine, will also be reduced putting the turbines on par with the turbines found in Falmouth and Hull.
The original size of the turbines would have made them the largest in the state. The previous height of the turbines measured about 490 feet each, more than double that of the turbine at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. The swept area would have been slightly larger than a Boeing 747 airplane.
Increasing the distance of the turbines from homes
In addition to reducing the amount and size the two remaining turbines would be place further away from residences. Of the eight original turbines, towers #3 and #4 are still set to be constructed off of Charge Pond Road if approved by the Zoning Board of Appeals. However, they will now be placed further back on the bogs.
The towers would be setback a minimum distance of 2,707 feet from homes. That is two to three times the typical setback distance in New England, according to Berkowitz. The original plan put them 1,400 feet from homes.
The increase is based on proposed minimum performance standards for energy developed by the the Cape Cod Commission. The standards, that are still pending approval, are considered to be the most stringent guidelines in the industry to adhere to when building wind turbines.
Under the scaled back plan Berkowitz said there will be “zero-hours” of shadow flicker. “Shadow flicker” is a result of the sun casting intermittent shadows from the rotating blades of a wind turbine onto a building, creating a strobe effect.
This would be achieved by powering down the turbines at dusk and dawn when the shadow flicker is most likely to occur, Berkowitz added. Previously the application allotted for 15 hours of shadow flicker. The industry standard is 30 hours.
During a recent public hearing opponents to the Bog Wind proposal told residents who live within two miles of the proposed turbines to brace for a 25 percent decrease in their homes’ values due to “nuisance issues” such as noise, aesthetics, and shadow flicker, which studies show deter potential home buyers.
Berkowitz said the smaller turbines would cause less ambient sounds and not be visible above the tree line from homes on Charge Pond Road.
With the reduction in turbines comes a reduction in potential power. The original Bog Wind Power Cooperative Project was to provide 40 million kilowatt hours per year of electricity for Massachusetts. That number fell to 33 million kilowatt hours per year under the six-turbine plan. Now the turbines would produce 7 million kilowatt hours, according to Berkowitz.
Seasonal Blackmore Pond resident Barry Cosgrove, who organized the group of residents opposed to the project, is remaining mum on the new plan.
“Until I see it, I will reserve comment,” Cosgrove said.
According to Berkowitz, the two are in the process of scheduling a meeting to discuss the amended proposal before the next public hearing on the issue.
Berkowitz said the Zoning Board of Appeals will be notified of the changes in a letter Thursday.
The revised plan will be formally presented on May 11, at the next public hearing on Bog Wind, giving residents the opportunity to weigh-in.
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