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A windy dilemma

However, residents should not view Minuteman's $220,000 carrot as a magic bullet to solve the town's fiscal woes. The payments wouldn't start until the turbines are in use - and that's at least three years down the road. Given the progress of other projects in this state, three years is a decidedly optimistic estimate. The Transcript has generally been against the development of large windmill projects in the Berkshires, largely because of their environmental impact and because of the lack of a cohesive plan on where to site them. We are still undecided about the merits of this particular project ...The townspeople are the ones who will have to live with the turbines. We urge them to consider carefully all the pros and cons before casting their votes at the Jan. 3 special town meeting to consider the Minuteman bylaw.

Minuteman Wind President Donald S. McCauley dealt what may end up being the trump card Tuesday in Savoy's dilemma over whether to pursue the construction of five wind turbines on West Hill.

After hearing that the company is willing to pay the town $220,000 annually in lieu of taxes, two of the three selectmen immediately jumped on board, backing a proposed windmill bylaw drafted by Minuteman and Harold "Butch" Malloy, the landowner who would lease the land for the project.

The Selectmen may not be the only ones lured by the promise of gold - $220,000 is a lot of hay in financially strapped Savoy - or a lot of road salt, a new truck, or about one-fifth of its education budget.

And Mr. McCauley has made it clear that an alternative windmill bylaw proposed by the Planning Board would kill the project - largely because of height limitations. Minuteman wants turbines 425 high (from base to tip of blade at the apex) while the Planning Board would set a limit of 350 feet.

The board is not being realistic in that requirement, given the size of turbines being manufactured today. Even Jiminy Peak's "Zephyr" turbine measures 375 feet high, and wind speeds diminish significantly the lower one gets to the ground.... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Minuteman Wind President Donald S. McCauley dealt what may end up being the trump card Tuesday in Savoy's dilemma over whether to pursue the construction of five wind turbines on West Hill.

After hearing that the company is willing to pay the town $220,000 annually in lieu of taxes, two of the three selectmen immediately jumped on board, backing a proposed windmill bylaw drafted by Minuteman and Harold "Butch" Malloy, the landowner who would lease the land for the project.

The Selectmen may not be the only ones lured by the promise of gold - $220,000 is a lot of hay in financially strapped Savoy - or a lot of road salt, a new truck, or about one-fifth of its education budget.

And Mr. McCauley has made it clear that an alternative windmill bylaw proposed by the Planning Board would kill the project - largely because of height limitations. Minuteman wants turbines 425 high (from base to tip of blade at the apex) while the Planning Board would set a limit of 350 feet.

The board is not being realistic in that requirement, given the size of turbines being manufactured today. Even Jiminy Peak's "Zephyr" turbine measures 375 feet high, and wind speeds diminish significantly the lower one gets to the ground. Also, as we understand it, the Savoy turbines would not be visible from Route 116, the main thoroughfare through the town's center, but mostly from the Chapel Road/Loop Road area. Seventy-five feet should not be a project killer.

However, residents should not view Minuteman's $220,000 carrot as a magic bullet to solve the town's fiscal woes. The payments wouldn't start until the turbines are in use - and that's at least three years down the road. Given the progress of other projects in this state, three years is a decidedly optimistic estimate.

The Transcript has generally been against the development of large windmill projects in the Berkshires, largely because of their environmental impact and because of the lack of a cohesive plan on where to site them.

We are still undecided about the merits of this particular project but are impressed that, as the developer explains it, the turbines would be connected to the Grid through existing Western Massachusetts Electric Co. lines - meaning far less environmental impact than other projects in the Berkshires, where numerous trees would be topped and hillsides disturbed to build access roads and bury conduits.

Many residents have expressed concern about the aesthetics of these huge machines in this peaceful rural town - not to mention the noise, the potential effect on wildlife and other issues. Also in question is whether the passage of the Minuteman bylaw would pave the way for other developers to come in and erect more windmills in Savoy.

The townspeople are the ones who will have to live with the turbines. We urge them to consider carefully all the pros and cons before casting their votes at the Jan. 3 special town meeting to consider the Minuteman bylaw.

The measure will take a two-thirds majority to pass. We predict a close vote.


Source: http://www.thetranscript.co...

DEC 20 2007
http://www.windaction.org/posts/12482-a-windy-dilemma
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