Articles from Massachusetts
The future of the Scituate Wind turbine could be up to annual Town Meeting voters this spring. A citizens’ petition has been submitted to the Town Clerk for placement on the April 11 Town Meeting warrant asking for approval to have the Scituate Wind turbine shut down permanently.
A temporary moratorium on developing large-scale, ground-mounted solar projects, defined as ones that generate at least 250 kilowatts of power, is winning support from residents. ...If passed by a two-thirds vote of the Town Council, the moratorium would remain in effect until as late as May 2023, or until a solar siting bylaw is developed.
Some Falmouth residents are upset and are particularly concerned about the danger of high-voltage cables beneath their neighborhood. “The electro-magnetic field will be substantial. Who is going to protect us from this?” Grand Avenue resident Marc P. Finneran asked. David Buzanoski, chairman of the community group Falmouth Heights-Maravista Neighborhood Association, aired concerns on behalf of the neighbors.
The Town of Falmouth plans on issuing requests for proposals by mid- to late December to have the two wind turbines at the wastewater treatment plant dismantled. The news of momentum in removing the turbines came during the Monday night, November 22, select board meeting, when Finance Director Jennifer Mullen and special counsel Christopher Morog presented an update to board members.
“Any species whose numbers are this low requires that we not take any additional action that could harm these whales,” political and environmental author and activist Michael Shellenberger said of the endangered North Atlantic right whales. “Particularly given that we have an abundance of nuclear and natural gas resources that would provide a sufficient alternative to these large industrial wind turbines.”
ISO New England’s draft plan aims to strike a middle ground. While the grid operator’s working proposal eliminates the automatic price floor for subsidized resources, a similar calculation should still “be applied in certain situations,” ISO New England explained in a presentation to stakeholders in September. “In June, when we launched the effort to remove the MOPR from the capacity market, we made clear that we will do so in a way that doesn’t jeopardize either power system reliability or competitive pricing in the capacity market,” Matt Kakley, senior communications specialist at ISO New England, said in an email.
State Rep. Sarah Peake, D-Provincetown, said the Baker administration, in its almost single-minded focus on low energy prices, was caught flat-footed by the technological leaps in the industry that led to greater turbine efficiency and productivity and big drops in the price of offshore wind power. Massachusetts is now in the third round of bids for state contracts to produce power for electrical distribution companies such as Eversource, Unitil, and National Grid.
In a bill filed Thursday, Gov. Baker proposes nixing the requirement that each new offshore wind project must cost less than the project that preceded it. The bill also takes the lion’s share of decisionmaking in the bid process away from the state’s three big utilities — National Grid, Eversource, and Unitil — and creates a new model in which “the state’s Department of Energy Resources would choose the successful projects with technical assistance from the utilities."
The state’s third competitive solicitation attracted bids from just Vineyard Wind and Mayflower Wind, a disappointment to Mariano and some others. The speaker last month singled out the price cap policy that requires the price of each new offshore wind project to be lower than that of the project before it and said it should be eliminated. “We’re hoping to create an industry and we just had two companies bid,” Mariano said in late September during a boat tour of the small wind farm off Block Island. He added, “That’s why we’re doing this, we want that universe to get bigger.”
50 fishing businesses based in New Bedford, Mass. have signed onto a federal lawsuit over offshore wind construction Viktor Posnov—Getty Images
The state’s third competitive solicitation attracted bids from just Vineyard Wind and Mayflower Wind, a smaller pool of bids than Mariano and others were hoping for. The speaker last week singled out the price cap policy that requires the price of each new offshore wind project to be lower than that of the project before it and said it should be eliminated.
Statewide rallies took place this summer demanding a moratorium on funding for large-scale solar projects. The moratorium calls on Gov. Charlie Baker and Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Kathleen Theoharides to hit the brakes on the many planned projects that they say clear-cut forests and remove prime farmland from production. The groups leading the rallies, which include Save the Pine Barrens, Save Massachusetts Forests and the Herring Pond Wampanoag Tribe, charge that the state’s solar incentives are driving reckless, unregulated development by big corporations.
A U.S. fishing group on Monday sued the Biden administration over its approval of the huge Vineyard Wind offshore wind project off the East Coast, saying the government had failed to address industry concerns about its potential safety and environmental impacts.
A proposal under review by the City Council and the Planning Board seeks to amend zoning to allow for wind turbines along the old Interstate 95 access road, but many residents have come out strongly against the idea. The ordinance, sponsored by Councilor at-Large Barry Connell, was introduced to the council on June 28 and referred to the Committee on Planning & Development for further discussion. “I think that we have a responsibility to look for ways to reduce the carbon footprint of the city of Newburyport to the extent that is possible,” Connell said in a phone interview Thursday.
“We’re disappointed in this rule. This was an opportunity to do more in a situation where this population is continuing to disappear,” said Amy Knowlton, a senior scientist at the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium. Knowlton said that at least an 80% reduction was needed. “Our feeling is that that (69% reduction) is not a strong enough target considering the status of right whales and the amount of risk,” said Gib Brogan, senior campaign manager at Oceana.
[S]ome fear that this project and others in the planning stage could also irreparably harm Massachusetts fishing and lobstering industries in the vicinity of these turbine sites. But that didn’t stop the Biden administration, as part of its aggressive offshore wind and renewable-energy agenda, from issuing final permits for Vineyard Wind in May. It’s evident that not all green-conscious activists believe wind power’s the optimum clean-energy solution.
Concerns about the fate of the right whale, whose population is dwindling, are not new. The downturn in the whale population is already happening without any wind farms being built, primarily because the whales are being hit by boats or becoming ensnared in fishing nets. Still, officials from 17 prominent environmental groups wrote a letter to the National Marine Fisheries Service in September 2020 raising concerns that regulators were failing to protect environmentally endangered mammals, including right whales, in their review of offshore wind projects. It’s unclear whether any changes were made in response to the letter; efforts to reach two of the signers were unsuccessful. Erica Fuller of the Conservation Law Foundation in Boston did not return calls over a two-day period.
The group, Nantucket Residents Against Turbines, says the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Marine Fisheries failed to ensure that Vineyard Wind would not jeopardize the survival of federally listed critically endangered species like the North Atlantic right whale. The suit also names Interior Secretary Debra Haaland and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. "The North Atlantic right whale is on the verge of extinction. However, one of its longtime safe havens – where there is ample food and protective areas for birthing and rearing young – is the area immediately south-southwest of Nantucket Island," the lawsuit reads.
Little is known about the impact offshore wind could have on wildlife. Scientists across the country agree we need to be monitoring its potential impacts, though it’s not consistently studied across the country. “I believe strongly in responsible development of offshore wind. I think it is a key to fighting climate change,” said Jessica Redfern, a senior scientist at the New England Aquarium. “What’s critically important is that it is responsibly developed and to have responsible development, we need to continue monitoring and understanding species numbers, understanding a species that are in the area, how long they’re there.”
Bob Vanasse, who heads the fishing advocacy group Saving Seafood, said Vineyard Wind and other projects proposed in the region could impact a range of significant fisheries, including squid, clams and scallops. “There are a number of groups in various fisheries who have raised concerns about the insufficiency of the planning and review effort,” he said Wednesday. “This group is far from alone in that.” Vineyard Wind also comes years after the infamous Cape Wind project, which failed after bitter litigation from another group that included Nantucket property owners.