SHELBURNE – The Shelburne landowner seeking permission to develop a wind farm on Mount Massaemet says he would withdraw his special permit application, in support of the Planning Board’s proposed year-long moratorium, if the town rejects a citizen’s petitioned article to ban “commercial wind.”
Frederick “Don” Field told the Planning Board at Friday night’s public hearing that he supports their moratorium, which would give the board a year to draft a wind turbine siting bylaw; and that he could use that time to develop more wind studies for the proposed site. But, he said, he didn’t want to lose all possibilities for building a wind-powered electricity generating facility, as would be the case with a ban.
“We would table or withdraw the application in support of the moratorium, if we weren’t struggling with the big turbine ban,” he said. “A ban on commercial wind turbines prohibits the presentation of facts that could benefit mankind.”
None of the 35 or so. residents present opposed the wind moratorium, and many petitioners for the article banning commercial turbines said they hope both sets of articles receive a positive vote at Tuesday’s annual town meeting.
Field’s offer to withdraw the application came after V. Matt Marchese, Planning Board chairman, read a letter received Thursday night from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. The letter withdrew the energy center’s earlier offer to help the Planning Board with its wind turbine siting bylaw, saying that Field’s application for a wind farm “has all but eliminated the possibility for the type of up-front public stakeholder process that is necessary for us to support your bylaw development activities.” Also, CEC project manager Tyler Studds says the Mount Massaemet Windfarm Inc. proposal application lacks a feasibility study. Without a detailed evaluation, “it is difficult to determine whether or not a project could be appropriately sited at the proposed location,” he said.
The letter said the energy center will “suspend any further efforts to provide financial support to the board at this time.” Studds said the center first became aware of the proposal last November, when Field asked the CEC what type of support might be available to assist him in his public hearing presentation.
“We made it clear that it is very unusual and undesirable for projects to seek permits without first completing a full feasibility study, including detailed evaluation of the wind resource, energy production estimates, acoustics and flicker impacts, environmental impacts, electrical interconnection, transportation, costs and overall project economics,” wrote Studd.
“On April 2nd, Mr. Field resubmitted a special permit application for a revised project layout in the same location, but still without having conducted a feasibility study.” Last fall, the windfarm proposal was for eight wind turbines on the east side of the ridgeline, that would have produced 20 megawatts of electricity. But the plan was withdrawn “without prejudice” during the first session of the Zoning Board of Appeals public hearing. The second, resubmitted plan calls for four wind turbines.
The Planning Board is hoping residents will vote to support a one-year wind turbine moratorium at Tuesday’s annual town meeting, to give the board some “breathing room” to develop criteria for siting wind turbines.
A moratorium would not apply to the Field proposal, which is why some residents in town are supporting an outright ban on Tuesday.