The proposal for a controversial turbine at Stamp Farm has been derailed.
The wind has been knocked out of an application for a controversial wind turbine on Stamp Farm.
In 5-1 vote, the North Kingstown Planning Commission deemed that turbine developer Wind Energy Development LLC’s decision to replace a 427-foot Vestas V100 with a 389-foot Goldwind was a “significant change” to the application, thus constituting a new application.
Now a new application, the 389-foot turbine now falls under the six-month moratorium on construction of wind energy systems. Enacted by the North Kingstown Town Council on Jan. 10, the moratorium was in response to sizable public outcry over the recently adopted wind energy ordinance.
In February, Wind Energy Development announced it would reduce the size of the turbine from 427 feet to 389 feet in response to public sentiment.
“I don’t think last night’s vote was unexpected,” said David Darlington, spokesperson for Wind Energy Development LLC. “It was disappointing. It seemed like the board members were trying to placate the citizens’ group.”
Except for Chip Palmer (the dissenting vote in last night’s motion), this change was too significant and its impacts too unknown, warranting further study from the Technical Review Committee.
“I do have concerns that when you lower the height of the wind turbine generator, that noise comes more towards households,” said Paul Dion. “To me, changing the height of the turbine would change those factors and I think I would want more information on that.”
In agreement, fellow commission member Jeff Michaelson aired his concerns regarding changes in shadow flicker with the smaller turbine.
“Whether you have 20 hours of 30 hours of flicker, if the rotations per minute is significantly greater I think it makes a huge difference to someone sitting in their living room,” he said.
Also factoring in the decision was a review by the town’s consultants, Applied Science Associates, which found that the new turbine differed from the original in “a number of ways” including “generator capacity, the overall physical dimensions (height), rotor diameter and drive mechanism. ASA also stated that the system is different enough that both shadow flicker and noise impacts will be different than what was previously presented.
Andrew Teitz, attorney for Wind Energy Development, argued that since the impacts would allegedly be less the new turbine shouldn’t qualify as a significant change.
“Our primary argument is that fact that the impact is less,” said Teitz. “The shadow flicker is significantly reduced. You’ve got a large wind turbine. That’s what you ahd before, that’s what you have now.”
The vote brought cheers from the crowd packing the cafeteria of Wickford Middle School for the meeting.
“To tell you the truth, with alternative energy going the way it’s going, I wish [this proposal] was a more successful process for everyone,” said Planning Commission Chair Richard Pastore.
According Darlington, the developer will wait for the legal reasoning from the town on June 21 to make its next move.
“It’s premature for us to say what our next steps are until we know formally from the town what they based their decision on,” said Darlington.
The Planning Commission will meet again on June 21 to wrap up discussion on the application. Check back with North Kingstown Patch as this story develops by clicking the “Keep Me Posted” button below.
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