Key moments in efforts to bring commercial wind power to Savoy:
– 2001: Savoy resident Harold “Butch” Malloy responds to a call from the Renewable Energy Research Lab at the University of Massachusetts for property owners interested in providing locations for wind turbines. Malloy owns nearly 300 acres on West Hill in Savoy.
– 2004: A group calling itself Minuteman Wind LLC connects with Malloy on a possible Savoy project.
– Jan. 3, 2008: Nearly 200 Savoy residents vote at a special town meeting to approve a bylaw allowing commercial wind power generation. Plan calls for five, 425-foot turbines able to generate 12.5 megawatts of electricity. Cost: About $30 million. Payments in lieu of taxes to Savoy said to be in the $220,000-a-year range.
– May 2010: Zoning panel in Savoy takes 10 minutes to approve a special permit for the project, but in coming years, the turbine venture hits multiple setbacks.
– Fall 2010: Town’s Conservation Commission asks Minuteman to update old wetlands data. Progress is delayed by heavy snowfall.
– 2011: Project encounters new delays with wetlands permitting and setbacks in finding a wholesale purchaser of electricity. Steven Weisman, a Minuteman principal, says he hopes to have the system up and running in 2012. Other delays ensue. As years pass, the wholesale market for electricity weakens.
– February 2016: Town’s zoning panel extends special permit for two years, agreeing Minuteman faced unavoidable obstacles and delays.
– Late 2016: Project clears an essential state Department of Environmental Protection review, putting actual construction in sight. Minuteman enters a partnership with Palmer Capital Corp., asking that Scituate group to take the lead.
– Spring 2017: Earlier estimates on tax payments from the project to Savoy fall sharply, to as low as $73,000 a year from $220,000, eroding local support for the project.
– August 2017: Palmer Capital asks town meeting to extend allowable turbine height by 30 feet, saying it could increase energy output by 15 to 20 percent after discovering that an earlier model of a desired turbine is no longer available.
– Sept. 27, 2017: Savoy residents overwhelmingly reject taller turbines, forcing Palmer Capital to regroup, with one official suggesting the setback jeopardizes the venture’s viability.
– Dec. 21, 2017: After a public hearing the day before, residents vote 101-22 at a special town meeting to remove the wind power bylaw they passed in 2008, barring any future projects other than the Minuteman venture.
– March 2018: Palmer Capital confirms to The Eagle it has dropped out of the project. Minuteman principals vow to push on, to the surprise of Savoy officials.
– April 2, 2018: Minuteman files for a building permit for a smaller, 7.5-megawatt project. Plans detail foundation work and access roads valued at $1.5 million.
– April 5, 2018: Savoy building inspector rejects the plans, calling them inadequate. Minuteman promptly appeals.
– May 29: Zoning panel holds hearing on Minuteman’s appeal, more than a decade after passage of the town’s wind bylaw.
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