May 12, 2011

Developer scales back wind turbine proposal

By Brian Boyd, 12 May 2011

WAREHAM – A wind energy developer has offered to scale back its plan to build six 500-foot-tall wind turbines on cranberry bogs.

Beaufort Windpower LLC revised the proposal being considered by the Zoning Board of Appeals, eliminating all but two of the planned turbines and reducing the height of the remaining ones by 20 percent.

Glen Berkowitz, the company’s president, told the board Wednesday that he and his colleagues were modifying the project, known as Bog Wind, after hearing the concerns of opponents at earlier meetings.

“Simply put, we had a change of heart,” he said.

Opponents had argued the turbines would be a nuisance to neighbors and a drag on residential property values. It was not immediately clear if they would be satisfied by the changes.

Barry C. Cosgrove, a member of Wareham Residents Opposed to Bog Wind, told The Standard-Times he was unable to judge on the substance of the new plan since he was just learning the details. He said there should be a fresh start to the review of the project.

“The changes are so significant, so material, an entirely new application should be submitted,” Cosgrove said.

Under the new plan, the two turbines would be 398 feet high, and the setback distance from the nearest home would be doubled from 1,400 feet to more than 2,700. The turbines would be located at Parker Mills North Bog and Barker Bog off Charge Pond Road.

Plans to construct turbines at Eagle Holt Bog off Blackmore Pond Road and Lower Bangs Bog off Cranberry Highway were withdrawn with prejudice, which means similar proposals cannot be made for those sites for at least two years.

In making the changes, the proponents used as inspiration tougher regulations approved by Cape Cod officials in the wake of turbine controversies in their region, Berkowitz said during the hearing.

Last month, the Barnstable County Assembly of Delegates approved new standards for noise, shadow flicker and other aspects of wind energy projects that are reviewed by the Cape Cod Commission. Only proposals before the commission – either because a town referred the project to the agency or some other reason, such as the clearing of more than 2 acres – will be subject to the rules, the Cape Cod Times reported.

Berkowitz addressed fears of noise and shadow flicker, saying the revised plans go further than the original in trying to eliminate or at least limit those potential nuisances.

The developer also tried to sweeten the deal for Wareham by offering the town government the first crack at buying power produced by the two turbines.

Berkowitz estimated the town could save $4.3 million over 20 years on municipal electricity expenses if it chooses to enter a contract.

“We believe local residents should benefit from turbines,” he told board members.

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