At its meeting on Monday, April 8, the Warren Planning Commission conducted its first major discussion on the topic of wind energy since Warren’s Town Plan was last readopted by the select board in April of 2011.
In that plan, Warren’s addresses wind energy in section 5-2, titled “Future Energy Potential”:
“The Lincoln Ridge is among the best wind sites in New England. However, most of this property is national forest. Small scale wind generation in the Valley is possible in certain areas and various projects have been proposed. Given the ever rising costs of continued reliance on fossil fuels, there is likely to be increased interest in developing wind projects in the Valley. While Warren encourages the use of solar and small scale wind, a delicate balance must be sought in deciding the placement of solar and wind energy equipment.”
According to the report, wind energy could prove a valuable renewable energy resource for Warren, but the town would have to “allow flexible standards in the land use and development regulations for renewable energy generations and transmission facilities.”
On Monday, the planning commission agreed that more localized research would need to be done on the effectiveness of wind energy in Warren before it seriously considered changing any zoning laws to allow for turbine construction.
According to the draft minutes of the April 8 meeting, the planning commissioners discussed what they thought might be the size and power output for a small-scale windmill trying to get a sense of how they might quantify such a structure.
During the discussion one member suggested they take a look at a “wind” map that might be helpful at seeing just how much potential there might be as an energy source and consider linking any potential zoning changes to such a wind map. Also discussed was whether certain areas might be unsuitable due to, for example, proximity to the airport, sensitive habitats, location in meadowlands area or status as “iconic view,” but the commission tabled that discussion until they were able to view the wind maps.
Should the planning commission go forward with making any changes regarding wind energy, it was suggested that there be some way to require decommission of any tower not in operation for a certain amount of time.
Although the minutes reference only a discussion of small-scale wind projects, an opinion piece for The Valley Reporter from planning commission chair Craig Klofach notes that the planning commission discussed the possibility of medium-scale wind.
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