Energy Policy and Massachusetts
The Berkshire Wind Project, a $25 million, 10-turbine wind energy project on Brodie Mountain that is facing two lawsuits, is under contract to be sold to a municipal utility consortium for $4 million.
Once the sale is completed in May, the new ownership status could render one pending lawsuit moot and prevent new lawsuits from further delaying the project. ...A lawsuit against the project by Silverleaf Resorts, which plans a 332-unit, $42 million condominium project at the former Brodie ski area site off Route 7, has entered a motion to dismiss the legal proceedings.
Another lawsuit brought by Silverleaf Resorts and two residents of Hancock, which alleges that a special permit had expired before construction of the project started and that the special permit was not issued legally, could become moot upon completion of the sale.
MMWEC, created by the Legislature in 1975, is owned by municipally owned utility companies. It's a nonprofit, publicly owned corporation, and a political subdivision of the state. As such, MMWEC is exempt from local zoning regulations, which would render the second lawsuit no legal grounds.
Massachusetts Senate leaders have drafted an energy bill that drops a House amendment to open Buzzards Bay and other ocean sanctuaries to what critics say would be unlimited renewable energy development.
The amendment, which was backed by House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, would directly benefit a proposal by Boston developer Jay Cashman to build up to 120 wind turbines in Buzzards Bay. His proposal is being reviewed by the state. ...The House has contended the law as currently written allows traditional electric generating facilities in the sanctuaries, but not renewable energy. Environmental groups disagree, saying only uses like transmission lines and gas lines are allowed in the sanctuaries, except in extraordinary circumstances.
Ian Bowles, Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said Tuesday that the state is prepared to listen to the concerns Islanders have about provisions of the Oceans Act. He said that while Islanders have focused on the designation of areas west of the Vineyard for wind farm development, the state is actively exploring the potential for wind farm development in federal waters well south of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.
During the Oct. 9 selectmen meeting, Mr. Pitney offered a guarantee that the town would recoup its $18,400 investment through savings in 13 years or he would pay the difference.
Town officials have said the installment plan fairly translates that guarantee into contractual language. It was included in the revised contract signed by selectmen Oct. 22. However, Mr. Pitney said he never agreed to what he considers a no-interest financing scheme.
"I'm not a bank that loans money out at zero percent interest," Mr. Pitney said in an interview last week.
...Town Meeting's appropriation of $63,400 for the effort remains on the books and must be acted on one way or another, Mr. Coughlin said.
If Mr. Pitney drops out, the town probably would have to advertise for bids for a new contractor, he said.
Mr. Pitney said that since selectmen signed the contract, MTC has instituted a new standard contract for wind turbine projects. He said he probably will include a copy of that standard contract with his response to the selectmen.
A growing group of elected officials this week raced to stay ahead of a state plan that could allow large-scale commercial wind farms to built within three miles of the Vineyard's southern shore, with little or no oversight from Island regulatory agencies, including the Martha's Vineyard Commission. ...Chairman Leonard Jason Jr. said the county and the six Island towns should join forces to create a unified front in response to the state wind initiatives.
After the brief session, Knapik described wind energy as a heavily subsidized "ripoff" and said he was confident Senate Republicans would block the bill any time Senate leaders attempt to push it through between now and the end of the legislative session in January 2011.
Timilty, who presided Monday, said he expected another bid to enact the bill later this week. "Right back up again on Thursday," he said.
A House bill that would open up Buzzards Bay and other ocean sanctuaries to large-scale renewable energy projects is likely to face serious opposition in the Senate, based on reaction from Senate leaders yesterday.
The House passed an oceans bill Wednesday that would allow renewable energy development along most of the state's coastline, including sanctuaries. Critics say it also would remove a major obstacle to Boston developer Jay Cashman's proposal for as many as 120 wind turbines in Buzzards Bay.
Currently, renewable energy projects only can be put in ocean sanctuaries under special circumstances. ...House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, who supports the provision, has said it resolves conflicts in the law. He argues renewable energy projects would still be subject to federal, state and local review. He has denied it was a favor to Cashman, a close friend.
A Capitol Hill amendment that would likely kill the Nantucket Sound wind farm has met with stiff opposition from Senate leaders behind closed doors, according to Washington sources.
With plans moving forward in New Jersey and Delaware - not to mention recent progress in Cape Wind's years-long fight in Massachusetts - it's far from certain that Deepwater and Rhode Island will succeed in their quest to be first.
And make no mistake, being first is important. For the developer, it means more than just bragging rights. It gives the company a leg up on its competitors as it tries to develop additional wind farms elsewhere.
For the state, it means much-needed economic development and valuable green-collar jobs.
Which comes first, a set of guidelines or a specific review? That's the latest question being asked in the saga of a proposed wind farm on Nantucket Sound.
A shift in the Patrick administration's wind energy development focus from state waters to federal waters came as welcome news last month to Islanders concerned about possible nearshore wind energy projects near Martha's Vineyard.
The amount of energy produced isn't worth the trade-off in noise, disruption and commercial development of green areas.
"We are not going to be changing our energy profile in New England with 1,000 wind turbines, but we are going to be destroying our environment," she said. "If we are talking about sacrificing all our mountaintops for 5-6 percent of our energy needs, that's not acceptable."
The massive offshore wind farms proposed for Nantucket Sound and Buzzards Bay generate most of the headlines. But most of the progress in renewable energy in Massachusetts this year will be seen among much smaller turbine projects.
The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative estimates that 10 wind turbine projects could be built and connected to the grid in 2008. Nearly all of them, however, are just one- or two-turbine projects.
"Residents and abutters have little to no opportunity to have their voices heard in objections or their questions answered," Ms. Chase said. "Despite the numerous procedural errors that have occurred, the town continues to blindly allow this ill-sited project to deleteriously impact the public health, safety and welfare of the people who have made their home on Bearsden Road for years."
What the new transmission cables don’t do, however, is add to the overall power generating capacity in New England. Overall, New England has a peak generating capacity of about 32,000 megawatts of electricity, and the region’s increasing demand is creating the need for about one more power plant a year, according to ISO New England.
House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi has taken up Rep. John F. Quinn's offer of a boat tour of Buzzards Bay on Wednesday to get a firsthand look at the location of a proposed wind farm.
Rep. Quinn, D-Dartmouth, and Speaker DiMasi have been at odds over House legislation that would open up Buzzards Bay and other ocean sanctuaries to large-scale renewable energy development. Rep. Quinn insists Buzzards Bay, with its busy shipping, fishing and recreational routes, is unsuitable for a wind farm for safety and environmental reasons.
House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, who many on SouthCoast contend aided developer Jay Cashman's effort to sprinkle giant wind turbines across Buzzards Bay, went out on the water today to look at ground zero.
Returning to land, he said he remains committed to strongly pushing for renewable energy alternatives, including wind turbine farms, as the state faces an energy crisis. ...Rep. [Rep. John F. Quinn, D-Dartmouth] said the wind turbines could have a potentially serious impact on quality of life for those living along the water as well as impacts on shipping and fishing. He said he invited Rep. DiMasi to view the location because it is highly visible from land and could potentially cause noise and other problems.
Dozens of wind turbines could sprout within sight of the Massachusetts shoreline under a first-of-its-kind state blueprint with the promise of generating both electricity and controversy.
The draft plan, scheduled to be released today, would allow a series of small wind farms of up to 10 turbines each in coastal waters that stretch 3 miles from shore.
With Bay State ocean-based wind energy projects languishing and demand for renewable energy climbing, a top energy official said Wednesday, April 2, that land-based wind development is both an opportunity and a challenge for Massachusetts.
Swampscott has investigated the possibility of placing wind turbines in town, most recently through efforts of the Renewable Energy Committee.
New England wind energy industry leaders said the land-based wind industry is robust and capable of producing 9,500 megawatts of wind power. Land-based community projects are on the rise in New England, despite stalled high-profile projects like Cape Wind, said industry officials.
On Wednesday night, battle again was joined between supporters and opponents of a proposed wind turbine farm for the waters of Nantucket Sound.
The prize this time was the approval or denial of a Chapter 91 permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection. The law regulates the use of state-owned tidelands either filled or under water along the coast of Massachusetts.
This piece of the wind farm puzzle pertains to the proposal by Cape Wind Associates, the developer of the project, to run two power cables from the proposed project site through the seabed of tidelands in Barnstable and Yarmouth.