Library from Massachusetts
The 12 long-term wind power purchase agreements (PPAs) equal an impressive 409 MW from three projects in Maine and New Hampshire; however, due to issues regarding three other wind farms, the deals still represent 156 MW less than what Massachusetts' utility companies had originally proposed last year.
The state has spent the last several years pushing renewables, imposing mandates on utilities to create markets for the power and offering incentives to spur the construction of wind and solar projects. Last year, more than 242 megawatts of solar generating capacity were installed in the state ...The state has 103 megawatts of wind generating capacity. Using more alternative energy, however, could raise utility bills for households and businesses. Wind power and solar power tend to be more expensive than traditional sources, while large-scale hydropower is cheaper.
Cape Wind has long held out the promise that it would become the nation’s first offshore wind farm, using 130 large turbines to provide clean, renewable energy for 75 percent of customers on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. But in a decade-long drama, it has been fiercely challenged: by wealthy homeowners who say it would ruin their views; by businesses that fear substantial rate increases; and by fishermen who say it would interfere with their catches.
After more than a decade opposing the Cape Wind project and pushing political leaders to take more care when siting such projects in the ocean, Parker couldn’t buy her way into the conference. She purchased one of the pricey tickets (the early-bird option started at $1,999), but organizers called her, told her it would be better if she stayed home, and refunded her money, Parker said.
Opponents long have sought two figures allegedly known to the company: the ambient sound level in Peru and how much Lightship's turbines would exceed it. A town bylaw allows a maximum of 60 decibels in a 15-minute period at an inhabited structure, with a limit of 40 decibels at 1,000 feet. In 2011, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center funded a $55,000 feasibility study that was supposed to produce answers to these and many other questions.
Peter Deterra, the recently re-elected Health Board member in Fairhaven and his cohort, Jeannin Lopes,have repeatedly said we need more science before action can be taken to protect residents from the harmful effects of the wind turbines. Given this ardor for science, they have probably already read Paul Schomer’s recent research, but perhaps others might be interested.
Turbines have been out the headlines for a couple of years now but there still on the minds of state officials and the Department of Public Utilities has been inquiring into the best practices for land based wind turbines since Oct. 31. They held a hearing at Cape Cod Community College last Thursday (Feb. 4), to seek input on the guidance they hope to provide local officials.
The Lynnway wind turbine has a cracked rotor due to cold weather. Repairs will begin Feb. 18.
A bid to push along the town’s commitment to buy power from a proposed wind turbine project in Plymouth has stalled because the Board of Selectmen wants more information about the town’s costs and savings as well as the lawsuits surrounding the proposal.
Louise Barteau of Fairhaven said she rented a studio in the fall of 2011 within 963 feet of where a wind turbine was later built. Barteau said she felt pressure in her head, nausea and other symptoms frequently claimed by affected neighbors of wind turbines. "I said I'm not sticking around for this because I could leave," she said. Others, she said, weren't so lucky.
Although state Department of Public Utilities officials have said the guidelines will be voluntary, critics of wind turbines located near residential properties say they believe the recommendations eventually will become rules. Gov. Deval Patrick has set a goal of 2,000 megawatts of wind energy in Massachusetts by 2020, with most of that coming from offshore.
The Berkshire planning board filed comments in November saying, “We are puzzled as to why the DPU is taking the lead in the development of wind energy facility guidelines, as this agency does not have jurisdiction over the siting of energy generating facilities that generate less than 100 MW and thus is very unlikely to oversee the permitting of any land-based wind energy projects in the state.
The move comes on the heels of five consecutive attempts by the Patrick administration to pass the Wind Siting Reform Act, which could have eliminated local control of the permitting process ...In the Berkshires, the act was fiercely opposed because of the perceived lack of local control and the predominance of identified sites. With higher elevations and open space, residents fears industrial wind turbines would be placed in their back yards without their input.
“This is a medical puzzle plopped into the middle of a very political environment,” says Dr. Steven Rauch, a hearing and balance specialist at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and professor of otology and laryngology at Harvard Medical School. “I personally have no doubt that there is a real physiological phenomenon going on and some patients are vulnerable to it,” says Rauch, who has seen two such patients with a plethora of symptoms, but has not treated Funfar. “There’s a lot of science on it, and it’s growing.”
The suit filed Tuesday by the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the town of Barnstable and several Cape Cod businesses and individuals argues that by brokering the deal between NStar and Cape Wind, the state discriminated against out-of-state power companies with a deal that will drive up electricity costs.
Longtime opponents of the controversial Cape Wind project are again challenging the proposed offshore wind development in court, saying the state overstepped its authority when it brokered an agreement for the utility NStar to purchase power from the offshore wind project.
Recent legal events prompted the alliance to take this new approach. The opposition group was emboldened by two decisions last fall by federal judges in Maryland and New Jersey. Those decisions, which are both now under appeal, essentially said regulators in those states infringed on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s authority to set wholesale electric rates by imposing contracts to help finance the construction of natural gas power plants.
The EAPC analysis indicated an increase in shadow flicker at 151 Driftway as 69 hours per year compared with 51 hours per year as predicted by an earlier shadow flicker study. The residential property of 151 Drifttway is located 640 feet from the base of the turbine.
Despite being dealt a setback in a similar suit last year, the town is again suing its own Zoning Board of Appeals in an attempt to overturn the determination that Falmouth's two municipal turbines are a nuisance. On Dec. 5, the ZBA ruled that the turbines located at the town's wastewater treatment plant were disruptive to Barry and Diane Funfar, who live on Ridgeview Drive.
Democratic state representative Gailanne Cariddi says she is supportive of a bill that would create a commission to look into the health concerns of those living near turbines. As a result of DEP testing, in November, a judge ordered the town of Falmouth to shut off two turbines it operates during evening hours and on major holidays.