Governor Deval Patrick has launched a new effort to push wind turbines into Western Massachusetts, and we urgently need your help to stop it.
For the past five years, the governor has sought enactment of the Wind Energy Siting Reform Act. Thanks to concerted opposition by residents statewide and their elected representatives, the state legislature has refused each year to approve it.
Now the governor is bypassing the legislature by deputizing one of his agencies to achieve the same outcome.
His strategy is targeted at Western Massachusetts, the only place for large-scale onshore wind development.
PLEASE ASK State Senator Ben Downing to oppose the governor’s plan.
PLEASE ATTEND a public hearing on the governor’s plan in Pittsfield this Monday, January 27, 5:00 p.m. We need a large crowd there to show our strong opposition to it.
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW.
In 2009, Governor Deval Patrick announced a goal of 2,000 megawatts of wind turbines in Massachusetts by 2020. Widespread construction of wind turbines, both onshore and offshore, was the linchpin of his energy plan.
To achieve his goal, the governor’s allies submitted the Wind Energy Siting Reform Act (WESRA) to the state legislature.
WESRA would shift control over the siting of land-based wind turbines from town boards to a single state agency appointed by the governor. That agency would be authorized to set standards that it could choose to apply or ignore in order to approve wind projects. Neighbors to wind projects would be stripped of almost all rights of appeal.
The impact of WESRA would be greatest in Western Massachusetts. As we now know from the many protests against operating wind turbines in the eastern part of the state, there are too many people and not enough open spaces for more turbines on the coast or islands.
Therefore, realistically, our ridgelines here in Western Massachusetts are the only onshore locations that can accommodate enough wind turbines to achieve the governor’s goal. As of today, there are 32 operating wind turbines in our region, for a total of 46.5 megawatts. A number of those turbines have caused tremendous stress on neighbors, with one family forced to leave its home, and others forced to consider that option.
Since the governor’s 2009 announcement, his agencies have issued cherry-picked reports to show there are no adverse effects to neighbors of wind turbines, despite abundant worldwide evidence to the contrary from first-person accounts, experts, and peer-reviewed scientific journals. His staff has failed to enforce existing laws and regulations to protect neighbors and the environment. Although his Clean Energy Center has collected hundreds of millions of dollars from electricity ratepayers, it has failed to support independent, thorough, and transparent scientific investigations into the consequences of wind turbines in neighborhoods and fragile environments.
This winter, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities took the next step in the governor’s strategy by issuing a notice of investigation into best practices for the siting of land-based wind turbines. The stated purpose of the notice was to solicit public input and develop wind siting “guidance.” This notice set off alarms along many people at the forefront of opposing WESRA. Through insider channels, we learned that, despite public promises to the contrary, the “guidance” would, in fact, be converted to rulemaking once the public process was concluded. In other words, what the governor couldn’t accomplish through the legislature he would achieve through an agency that he appointed.
As co-chair of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities & Energy, our state senator Ben Downing is in a key position to stop both WESRA and the governor’s new plan to sidestep the legislature. It took several years of education by his constituents before the senator abandoned his support of WESRA. He is now firmly opposed to WESRA, for which we should all be grateful. Today, we must show him that his constituents are also opposed to the governor’s latest plan, and we expect him to oppose it actively, too.
HERE’S THE MESSAGE TO SENATOR DOWNING AND TO THE GOVERNOR THROUGH HIS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC UTILITIES:
- Any attempt to accelerate wind development in Western Massachusetts;
- Any attempt to bypass the authority of the legislature with agency-level rulemaking;
- Any attempt to weaken local control;
- Any attempt to curtail the rights of wind-turbine neighbors;
- Any attempt to convert guidelines to regulations.
- The rights of communities to retain local control over the siting of wind turbines;
- The rights of neighbors to participate fully in the review of wind projects, and to appeal adverse decisions;
- The enforcement of existing laws and regulations that protect people, wildlife, and the environment;
- Voluntary, not mandatory, guidelines for town boards and state agencies based on independent and transparent science-based research into the impacts of wind turbines;
- Funds from the Clean Energy Center to help communities that want to remove turbines;
- Funds from the Clean Energy Center to compensate victims of inappropriate wind-turbine siting.
PLEASE TAKE THESE STEPS TO OPPOSE DPU ORDER #13-165:
1. EMAIL OR CALL SENATOR BEN DOWNING.
It will take just a minute to register your opposition to DPU Order #13-165 with the senator’s staff, by calling (617) 722-1625.
Or you can email him directly at Benjamin.Downing@masenate.gov.
2. ATTEND THE PUBLIC HEARING ON MONDAY, JANUARY 27.
At the hearing for DPU Order #13-165, you can speak or just be present in support of those who are speaking.
If you wish to speak, web links are listed at the end of this email to the DPU order itself, to an explanation of the process and the topics to be considered by the DPU, and to comments that have already been submitted to the DPU.
If you do not wish to speak, you can choose, instead, to submit written comments (hand-written or typed) into the record at any time during the hearing.
3. SUBMIT WRITTEN COMMENTS TO DPU.
If you cannot attend the hearing, you may submit written comments by email to DPU, with a deadline of February 6, 2014. The process for doing so is explained in the DPU Order (the web link is below.)
Please email if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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