WAREHAM – Beaufort Windpower’s wind farming plan has been scaled back dramatically to address opponents’ concerns, going from six, 494-foot turbines to two, approximately 400-foot turbines, said Beaufort President Glen Berkowitz.
“We not only listened, we heard” the concerns expressed in the three Zoning Board of Appeals’ hearings on the proposal to date, Berkowitz said.
Not only will there be four fewer, smaller turbines constructed to generate electricity, their distance to homes will increase. The closest turbine will now be about 2,800-feet from the nearest home as opposed to 1,400 feet in the plan’s prior incarnation.
Berkowitz added Beaufort was “committed” to guaranteeing any ambient sound increase would be half the standard allowed by the state Department of Environmental Protection.
And, the shadow flicker generated by the spinning turbine blades will be eliminated entirely, he said. The flickering comes at dawn and dusk, and has been reported to have an unsettling strobe effect in some instances, disturbing affected residents. The industry standard for allowable flicker is a cumulative 30 hours per year. Beaufort’s initial proposal was a maximum of 15 hours, but Berkowitz said the smaller scale plan, increased setback and a pledge to regulate the blades at sunrise and sunset if necessary would make it possible to eliminate flicker from affecting homes completely.
Berkowitz said abutting property owner Barry Cosgrove and Wareham Residents Opposed to Bog Wind had actually helped Beaufort in its effort to make the proposal more palatable by airing their concerns and criticisms. The firm’s new plan is its response to the critique.
“I sincerely tip my hat to Barry,” he said, adding that his development team had also listened to complaints voiced by Falmouth residents to turbines recently developed in that town. He said the turbine technology used in that instance was dated and produced more noise during high winds than the newer technology proposed by his firm.
He added Beaufort was also proposing to pay the town $75,000 per year in lieu of taxes for 20 years, totaling $1.5 million, as well as $7,500 per year for 20 years to the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association to provide college scholarships to Wareham High School graduates for agricultural or environmental studies.
And, he said, the scaled back version of the project will qualify it for a state program allowing it to sell power to the town for its municipal departments at 2 cents per kilowatt hour below market. The town could also lock into a 20-year rate for further savings.
The new proposal has been sent to the Zoning Board of Appeals and will be publicly aired at the board’s next meeting on May 11.
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