WAREHAM – It was a “change in heart” that prompted Beaufort Windpower to scale back its wind farm project, said Beaufort President Glen Berkowitz.
“Why did we make these changes? Simply stated, we had a change of heart,” Berkowitz told Zoning Board members at the continued hearing Wednesday, May 11.
The ZBA unanimously OK’d his request to reduce the project from six 492-foot wind turbines, including the blades’ lengths, to two 398-foot turbines, blades included. The distance to the closest home was also increased, from 1,400 to 2,707 feet.
Berkowitz said the changes were made in response to the opponents’ testimony in previous hearings, led by Barry Cosgrove, an abutting property owner and member of Wareham Residents Opposed to Bog Wind.
“We thank them for how much they taught us,” he said, adding, “We were not just listening at these hearings, but we actually heard.”
The less invasive project seemed to win the hearts of some opponents, as well.
Attorney Christopher G. Senie said his clients living on nearby Charge Pond Road were “very satisfied” with the changes, though they still needed to go over the details in depth.
But not all opposition was apparently mollified.
Attorney Marc Antine represented Janice O’Connor, who lives and owns property on Charge Pond Road. He described her as a cranberry grower and “very much in opposition.”
Antine also questioned whether the scope of the changes should warrant a new application with the ZBA.
He said potential opponents to the plan might otherwise be unaware of the changes.
Antine said they had been told in previous hearings what a “fantastic opportunity” the project was in its earlier incarnations. In the face of “overwhelming evidence” to the contrary the plan has been changed enough to satisfy some abutters, he said.
He also questioned Berkowitz’s ability to deliver on “goals” to keep noise and shadow flicker caused by the turning blades to the low levels presented.
Berkowitz said the revamped Bogwind project would adhere to guidelines formulated by the Cape Cod Commission, the most stringent in the state. The development would actually be tougher on itself than the Commission guidelines when it came to noise and flicker, he said.
Berkowitz also said the development would mean $4.33 million in additional revenue to the town over 20 years, including $75,000 per year in lieu of taxes and savings on electricity. He said the smaller project qualified for a state program that would allow it to sell all of its power to Wareham at a savings of two cents per kilowatt in the first year. The town could then lock into a rate over 20 years that would provide additional savings.
He added a turbine in Falmouth that has been generating numerous complaints was using dated technology, and was not even manufactured anymore. He called it “ancient.” The technology Bogwind will use is far superior, he said.
ZBA Chairman Kenneth Ferreira remarked at one point that was a question he had. “Should we wait until the technology gets even better?” He said in five years turbines could be less noisy and still provide the same amount of power.
The hearing was continued to June 8.
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