The New Generation Wind Project proposes to erect four 492-foot tall wind turbines in a rural section of Bournedale. These turbines would be higher and closer to neighboring properties than the one in Falmouth that has caused such huge negative neighborhood impacts.
The Patrick administration’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs recently took the unusual step of intervening in this local Cape matter, with a letter to the Cape Cod Commission claiming it had never heard of anywhere in the country where such industrial-sized wind turbines near residential areas produced negative effects on property values or community morale.
The office should consult with the Falmouth Board of Selectmen, who recently suspended operation of the Falmouth wind turbine precisely because of its effect on neighborhood health, property values and community morale.
The office should consult with the Bourne Board of Selectmen, who, after careful evaluation of the effects of this proposal on their town, voted unanimously to oppose it. And the voters of Bourne, who turned out in near record numbers at their town meeting last year to implement new zoning restrictions that would bar the project.
The office should consult with the Buzzards Bay Water District. When asked by the wind project developer, in order to advance the project, to “undesignate” lands currently designated as a protected Potential Public Water Supply Area, the water district board refused, expressing “its desire to maintain the area located as an area from which residents of the town of Bourne will potentially draw their drinking water.”
State officials should read carefully the draft decision of the Cape Cod Commission subcommittee, which found that the thousands of gallons of hazardous material and hazardous waste the wind turbines would require for their operation would far exceed allowable limits at this location above Bourne’s future water supply.
And they should ponder the wind developer’s cynical response, which was to rush out and obtain permits to install a 4,000-gallon storage tank at the site, and then come back to the commission offering to not install it. The commission subcommittee had it exactly right in its draft decision: “An applicant cannot introduce hazardous materials onto a site for the purpose of receiving credit for its offset.”
What does it say when the Buzzards Bay Water District and the Cape Cod Commission subcommittee both agree that a wind developer’s plan to locate thousands of gallons of hazardous materials and hazardous wastes in a protected public water supply area is wrong, and the state Department of Environmental Protection weighs in on the side of the developer?
Finally, what credibility can the Cape Cod Commission give statements in the administration’s letter like “the draft decision, if approved, would establish a precedent that would make it difficult, if not impossible, for any renewable energy project to obtain approval from the commission”? Or this: “The Commission’s draft interpretation “¦will effectively end the Cape’s opportunity to consider beneficial renewable energy projects.”
The answer is, none. The Cape has seen several smaller-scale wind turbines approved, and indeed several large-scale ones, and a number of solar-power generating projects are up and running, with more in the pipeline. Renewable projects, of appropriate scale, have been approved in the past, and will be approved in the future.
But when a project of this magnitude – with industrial-sized wind turbines larger than any ever built on Cape Cod – comes before the commission, a project that is clearly opposed by its neighbors, by the selectmen and the voters of the proposed host town, and by the board of the water district in which the project is proposed to be located, the commission has every right – and indeed the duty – to say “no.”
Eric Turkington of Falmouth represented Falmouth and the Islands in the state Legislature from 1989 to 2009.
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