Brimfield, MA–The first of two public hearings on the controversial bill to expedite land-based wind projects is scheduled for September 7, 2011 in Hancock, Massachusetts, known for its historic Shaker Village. The 10:00 a.m. meeting will be held at the Jiminy Peak ski resort, site of a 1.5 MW turbine.
Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts, a statewide coalition, asked the co-chairs of the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy to reconsider the location. In a letter, the group argued that “an operating wind turbine at this location raises the unavoidable question as to whether this choice reflects a bias on the part of the Committee.”
In response, co-chairs Benjamin Downing (Pittsfield) and John D. Keenan (Salem) refused the group’s request, writing that “providing Committee members the opportunity to visit Hancock allows those who represent urban areas or have never seen a wind turbine the ability to do so in multiple settings – the individual business-serving, behind-the-meter model at Jiminy Peak and the developer model of MMWEC’s nearby Berkshire Wind project.”
The Wind Wise group has characterized the Committee’s decision as a transparent attempt to promote the siting bill—H01775 and S01666—which stalled in the last session.
If passed, the law calls for both local and statewide Siting Boards to be appointed. The local Board would have the power to overturn local zoning, conservation, and health bylaws. The State Board would be the sole appeal for turbine opponents. Only proponents would be allowed to appeal to Superior Court.
“This siting bill will also take away local control from residents of small towns,” said Virginia Irvine of Brimfield, a Wind Wise board member. “Once a developer puts a proposal forward, the wind act kicks in, with short time deadlines that rural towns will find hard to meet. The bill doesn’t even allow for an up-or-down Town Meeting vote.”
In addition to the Jiminy Peak turbine, Hancock—population 717—is also the site of Berkshire Wind, an industrial facility of ten 1.5 MW turbines occupying 2,500 acres of Brodie Mountain.
There is apparently some confusion on the Telecommunications Committee as to where Jiminy Peak is located. According to the co-chairs’ letter, the venue is “relatively easy to access from the Mass Pike.” In reality, it is a 50-minute drive from the Pike’s Lee exit. Google Maps’ preferred route leads a motorist to New York State and, from there, via a route north and east, back into Massachusetts.
Wind Wise members say they will be taking a day off from work and getting their children to school early, on what is for many communities the second day of the school year.
For information, contact:
Lilli-Ann Green: (508) 801-6211
Virginia Irvine: (413) 245-3179
Eleanor Tillinghast: (413) 446-3990
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