Library from Massachusetts
Falmouth wind turbine project to plague taxpayers for decades
BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed a sweeping climate change bill into law Friday, ending months of negotiations as the legislation shuttled back and forth between the Democratic-controlled Legislature and the Republican governor.
Responding to years of complaints from neighbors that they can’t sleep at night because of the noise from the Scituate Wind turbine, the Scituate Select Board ordered the operation shut down at night — from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. — from mid-May to mid-October. The seasonal hiatus will cost the town about $96,000.
The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) expressed concerns that the project could potentially interfere with local fisheries and economies and have a negative environmental impact. She also said the public has not had an opportunity to weigh in on the new developments. RODA executive director Annie Hawkins told Fox News that the Vineyard Wind project and "other projects proposed in a 1,400 square mile area off of New England will have major impacts to commercial fisheries."
After a decade of two wind turbines standing inoperable on the wastewater treatment plant, the town is moving forward with getting them dismantled. The Falmouth Select Board voted at its meeting Monday to hire a consultant to determine how much it would cost to get rid of the turbines, and then create the necessary bids to make that happen.
The Falmouth Select Board on Monday, February 22, approved hiring a consultant to assist with the creation of bid documents necessary for the disposition of the two wind turbines at the wastewater treatment plant site on Blacksmith Shop Road. Attorney Christopher W. Morog told the board that Massachusetts General Law allows for the dismantling and disposal of the turbines under one procurement.
Vineyard Wind, the wind energy developer that aims to construct America’s first industrial scale offshore wind farm some 15 miles south of Aquinnah, has resuscitated its project permit process. The company formally pulled out from the federal permitting process on Dec 1.
“We’re hoping to take the next step on that, subject to approval by the select board, to go through that unusual procurement process,” Mr. Suso said. “I know we’ve said this before, but we remain guardedly optimistic that we can finally have some reasonable light at the end of the tunnel and a determination in moving forward and ending that chapter in the town’s history.” The turbines are not running, but they continue to be an expense to the town.
In a letter to lawmakers, Baker said he vetoed the bill in part because it would slow housing production, running contrary to the goals of the “housing choice” proposal within the economic development bill he signed into law Thursday. He also said the bill lacked tools local and state officials need to protect cities and towns against present-day natural disasters that can be traced back to climate change.
Scituate will ask the company that owns the wind turbine on Driftway if they can cut down on the amount of time it runs after eight years of complaints from residents living hundreds of feet from the 262-foot tall turbine.
After Massachusetts-based Vineyard Wind asked the Interior Department for a temporary pause in the federal permitting process, which can take years to complete, the department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management terminated the project. Now that the 800-megawatt wind farm is no longer under review, the developer will have to submit a new application. That will kick-start an environmental review that could take up to 18 months, according to various reports.
“Since the COP has been withdrawn from review and decision-making, there is no longer a proposal for a major federal action awaiting technical and environmental review, nor is there a decision pending before BOEM,” the agency wrote in the register posting. “Thus, in light of Vineyard Wind’s letter dated December 1, 2020, this notice advises the public that the preparation and completion of an [environmental impact statement] is no longer necessary, and the process is hereby terminated.”
Vineyard Wind LLC’s decision to push back a permitting review of the $2.8 billion offshore wind farm it plans to build near Massachusetts could delay the project by more than a year, under a ruling by the U.S. Interior Department.
The judge based his ruling on the Bourne health board’s own wind energy conversion system regulations that state that no one can build such a system in Bourne unless it is in compliance with the regulations. Judge Nickerson ruled, though, that the regulations do not authorize the board of health to regulate the construction of wind turbines in Plymouth. In his ruling, however, Judge Nickerson said the Bourne health board has “broad powers to regulate and prevent nuisances that affect public health.” His ruling ended with the proviso that the board of health might have future legal recourse to combat a nuisance to the town and its residents.
The announcement came in conjunction with news that the 800-megawatt offshore wind project plans to use GE Renewable Energy’s Haliade-X wind turbine generators when it begins construction, which it called “industry leading” and “the most powerful in operation to date.”
The Baker administration this week approved the contracts for offshore wind power generation from the Mayflower Wind project, an offshore wind farm that is expected to provide the state and its electric ratepayers with total economic benefits of about $2.4 billion over the next two decades.
“I remain extremely frustrated with the state, on the one hand, saying we’re going to have to pay back the $3.5 million dollars, but on the other hand saying we’re not going to help you,” board member Douglas H. Jones said. “The state agencies are not communicating with each other or are speaking from two sides of their face at the same time. I understand that they are different state organizations, but the fact that the DoER [Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources] isn’t willing to allow us to use the 25A procurement law is just unbelievable.” Mr. Jones said the decision has tied the town’s hands, leaving it with no viable way to move forward with disposal of the turbines.
Vineyard Wind has announced a transmission agreement with ISO New England (ISO-NE) to deliver power to the system operator’s grid when the Vineyard Wind 1 project comes online. The 800-MW offshore wind farm, located about 15 miles off the cost of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, is expected to be the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm in the U.S.
After a decade of issues regarding the two wind turbines that stand at the wastewater treatment plant, the town is no closer to seeing them dismantled. The town has been working to find ways to either move the turbines for use elsewhere or dismantling and disposing of them completely. The state recently rejected the town’s request under a specific law that would have made it easier to dismantle the turbines without costing millions of more dollars.
Mayflower Wind recently got approval from the Falmouth Conservation Commission to conduct geotechnical boring investigations at two beach parking lots to eventually install underground cables. The company will appear before the Select Board on Monday to get permission to conduct the tests on town property.