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Commission deals blow to Bourne wind project

BOURNE – The New Generation Wind project has lost its first battle with the Cape Cod Commission.

A subcommittee reviewing the four-turbine project last week voted 4-1 that the project did not meet a county standard that measures local benefit and demand, commission Executive Director Paul Niedzwiecki said.

The vote could signal an initial disapproval for the project because, though the subcommittee does not have the final say, a project will not be OK’d by the full commission if it misses even one of the planning agency’s 200-plus minimum performance standards.

Niedzwiecki would not comment further on the subcommittee’s vote but said New Generation did not meet a required standard.

On Wednesday, New Generation Wind spokesman Greg O’Brien of the Stony Brook Group issued a statement that the subcommittee’s review “has clearly gone beyond the bounds of its Regional Policy Plan and into an arena of subjective opinion. “It’s unfortunate that the best sound bite wins today on the stage of public hearing.”

Since announcing the original project in May 2010, New Generation Wind has come under fire from residents and others. This summer, it whittled its plans from seven turbines to four in response to the criticism.

Project supporters have touted the creation of a local energy source, as well as hundreds of thousands in annual tax revenue and an energy rebate for residents living closest to the proposed turbines.

In its statement, New Generation also alleged that the subcommittee’s vote is inconsistent with the commission’s own Regional Policy Plan for Barnstable County, which encourages the use of renewable energy.

“Increased use of renewable energy technologies “» could help establish an emerging clean-energy cluster as an important component of the regional economy,” the plan states.

But a recent report by commission staffers, who advise the subcommittee on the turbine project, stated that New Generation has not “made a case that this project will increase or safeguard the availability of energy on Cape Cod” and have not addressed “whether this project will reduce or stabilize energy prices.”

At its meeting last week, the subcommittee chose to delay making a final decision on whether to recommend the project to the full commission. It will likely do that in November, regulatory officer Elizabeth Enos said Friday.

New Generation Wind backers are “not optimistic that the full commission will be any more supportive than the subcommittee,” O’Brien wrote.