In response to wind turbine-related issues plaguing Falmouth and other communities across the state, State Representatives David T. Vieira (D-Falmouth) and Timothy R. Madden (D-Nantucket) have filed a bill that would create two financial safety nets for municipalities and citizens alike. “I have filed the Wind Energy Relief Act as a means to open up various options for dealing with the negative impacts of improper siting of wind turbines throughout the Commonwealth,” Rep. Vieira said in a press release issued yesterday.
He acknowledged that Falmouth’s literal and figurative headaches stemming from the town-owned turbines on Blacksmith Shop Road were the primary catalyst for this legislation, but “the relief funds would be available to all municipalities in Massachusetts.” “This funding will provide municipalities with a level of comfort knowing that they won’t be put in the predicament that Falmouth is now facing,” Rep. Madden said of the bill, which would create two dedicated state funds to which citizens and municipalities would have access.
Money from the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust Fund would be used to create the two new funds, starting with $15 million for the Wind Energy Relief Fund, which would provide monetary compensation to homeowners, business owners, and municipalities that experience “losses incurred as a result of detrimental health effects or any property loss or any other adverse impact” as a result of an “improperly sited” wind turbine.
One caveat is that the fund would apply to claims made against turbines that received assistance from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. The center provided some funding for the Falmouth turbines themselves, and has provided funding for the Falmouth Wind Turbine Options Analysis process.
The bill does not outline a specific process for filing a claim or determining the value of a pay-out, but does charge the Massachusetts Executive Office of Administration and Finance, which would administer the fund, with developing that process in cooperation with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, the Massachusetts Board of Realtors, the Massachusetts Assessors Association, the Massachusetts Municipal Association, and the Massachusetts Selectmen’s Association.
The second fund, the $7.5 million Wind Turbine Decommissioning or Relocation Fund, would compensate cities and towns for the cost of decommissioning or relocating a turbine within its borders.
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