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Tiverton Council voices wind farm bill concerns; Private developers wait in wings  

Credit:  By Tom Killin Dalglish | www.eastbayri.com 25 May 2012 ~~

TIVERTON – By unanimous vote, the town council sent a message Monday to the General Assembly that it is not happy with legislation creating a nine-member East Bay Energy Consortium (EBEC) that would build a wind farm on vacant land on and near the town’s Industrial Park and along Route 24 toward Fall River.

The council passed a resolution to this effect, to be sent to the assembly, that walks a tightrope between conceptual support and opposition to specifics.

The supportive language in the resolution was general – “preliminary, conceptual support” for “the use of alternative sources of energy for the production of electricity,” and for a “cooperative consortium of communities” in order to “advance the development of a competitive market.”

But then the language took a tougher turn. The resolution says the town council “has serious concerns” with the legislation, especially provisions relating to eminent domain and “the lack of a requirement for host community consent to all terms.”

Other concerns included the authority of local ordinances and building codes, and ensuring that the town would not be liable in the event that EBEC defaults.

The EBEC proposal is based on the assumption that Tiverton would be the best to serve as the “host” community. Eight other East Bay communities would be members.

Opposition to the proposed legislation has inspired amendments designed to placate opponents. A practical problem, however, is that, just as the council reviews one draft, it gets amended, requiring another local review.

Monday night council member Robert Coulter lamented that he had received another version of the legislation just hours before the council was set to review its predecessor.

“Here’s yet another piece of legislation,” said Council President Jay Lambert. “I don’t see how we can do due diligence.”

“I share your frustration with the various changes,” said Garry Plunkett, the town’s representative to EBEC. “The most recent version is a huge improvement.” It’s a “fairly major change in direction.”

Meanwhile, opposition is gaining ground. David Holmes, a member of the planning board, said he wanted the town council to just say “no” to EBEC. “We don’t want any part of it.”

There are alternatives waiting in the wings. In the audience the past few times EBEC has been discussed, has been Andrew Shapiro, New England representative for Apex Wind Energy, Inc., a private energy development firm based in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Listed by Mr. Coulter on Monday’s agenda was an item called “Apex Land Lease and Wind Easement.”

A 29-page document by that name (labeled “Confidential,” that says it was “prepared by” Apex Wind Energy Holdings, LLC, a different legal entity than the one Mr. Shapiro’s business card says he represents), was in circulation at Monday’s meeting.

The council set the matter for a hearing on Monday, June 11.

In other action, the council:

• Heard a representative from National Grid explain an energy savings pilot program Tiverton and Little Compton residents will have a chance to participate in beginning this summer, and over the next five years until 2017.

The idea is to help volunteering customers become more efficient in energy usage, by installing devices that automatically – and slightly – adjust customers’ thermostat settings to reduce usage.

The underlying theory is that small load reductions, by many people, may be more energy efficient than big reductions by a few large customers.

Customers must have central air conditioning or wi-fi to participate. Those who sign up are eligible for a $40 yearly bill credit ($160 for small businesses). Local National Grid contact is: David Moreira at 401-784-7103.

• Appointed Kate Michaud, administrative officer for the town planning board, to temporarily perform the functions of town planner, to fill the gap left by former town planner Chris Spencer, who left recently to accept a position at the State University of New York in Albany.

Source:  By Tom Killin Dalglish | www.eastbayri.com 25 May 2012

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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