Article

State holds Chapter 91 hearing on Cape Wind

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.

Opponents, supporters address plan to run power cables through tidelands

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.

Mark Rodgers, communications director for Cape Wind, said the cables would be laid in trenches six feet deep and 20 feet apart through 7.6 miles of state water to landfall in West Yarmouth. The cables then would be placed underground through Yarmouth and along an existing Nstar right of way to a Barnstable substation, which ties in with the mainland electric grid.

Rodgers said an underwater jet plow connected to a barge would dig the trenches for most of the route, with a... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Opponents, supporters address plan to run power cables through tidelands

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.

Mark Rodgers, communications director for Cape Wind, said the cables would be laid in trenches six feet deep and 20 feet apart through 7.6 miles of state water to landfall in West Yarmouth. The cables then would be placed underground through Yarmouth and along an existing Nstar right of way to a Barnstable substation, which ties in with the mainland electric grid.

Rodgers said an underwater jet plow connected to a barge would dig the trenches for most of the route, with a horizontal drill used closer to shore. He said the trenches would have little effect on the seabed and promised mitigation for any longer-term environmental effects.

This sort of project is nothing new. A similar cable project to put in a new electric power line between Nantucket and the mainland power grid on Cape Cod was approved and constructed in recent years with little public comment.

Steve Peckham backs proposal.
But these two power cables, each of which could carry 115 kilovolts, would have a wind turbine farm at the other end, in federal waters on Horseshoe Shoal. And this made all the difference.

Ben Lynch, chief of the agency's waterways regulation program, said Wednesday he anticipates that the state will decide by the end of the year whether to approve or deny the application.

At the public hearing on the application, held Wednesday night at Mattacheese Middle School in West Yarmouth, Alex Strysky, a staff member of the agency's waterways regulation program, gamely reminded people who came to testify that the proceeding was focused on the proposed laying of the cables rather than the wind farm project in general.

But a large chunk of the testimony did bring in wider and familiar comments about the Cape Wind project.

Supporters said they anticipate the project would generate energy without fossil fuels and their accompanying air pollution, and provide many jobs. Opponents criticized the environmental, aesthetic and historic site damage that they said the wind farm would wreak.

Wednesday's public hearing on Cape Wind's permit application did include a specific Chapter 91 point of contention - the state's decision after the initial permit was filed to consider the wind turbine farm a waterways-dependent project.

The decision, addressing a key aspect of the tidelands law, would ease the way for approving the power cable project.

Opponents hammered the ruling, seeing it as a special favor to Cape Wind, a project that is supported by Gov. Deval Patrick, and saying that, unlike wharves or piers, there is nothing specifically water-dependent about wind turbine farms, which can be and are built on land.


Barbara Durkin opposes plan.
Supporters said in reality there's no distinction between cables laid into the seabed to carry power to islands, such as exist between the Cape and Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, and cables carrying power from a wind farm that happens to be in federal waters in Nantucket Sound.

Following the hearing, Lynch said the state periodically updates its Chapter 91 regulations. He said the latest amendment was enacted to address offshore power projects in general, such as those tapping waves and tides, and wasn't specifically tied to Cape Wind.

But Susan Nickerson, executive director of Nantucket Soundkeeper, a program of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a nonprofit organization that opposes the wind farm, said during the hearing that the state's decision to consider Cape Wind water-dependent was the equivalent of spot zoning.

Glenn Wattley, president and chief executive officer of the Alliance, said the state should not have granted the amendment.

Residents along the shore of Lewis Bay decried the environmental effects the cable construction would have on the shallow bay and its marine life.

Other opponents noted how shoaling routinely occurs in Nantucket Sound, and said that shoaling could bring the cables closer to the surface, where they could be snagged by vessel anchors.

A supporter of the project, Charles W. Kleekamp of Sandwich, said the original framers of Chapter 91 in 1866 never envisioned the use of water-dependent structures in the ocean to produce or transmit electricity.

"The second power cable to Nantucket recently installed to power additional expensive homes received quick approval from regulatory agencies as a matter of routine," Kleekamp said in his statement.

Barbara W. Hill, executive director of Clean Power Now, a nonprofit organization that backs renewable energy projects, said the cables had been exhaustively reviewed over the past seven years since Cape Wind first was proposed, and that the information in the application had been thoroughly studied. She asked for fast-track approval.

William Griswold of Centerville noted that some opponents of Cape Wind are backing the concept of wind farms farther offshore, where they can't be seen from land. Any such projects, he said, would have to connect to the mainland grid through the same kind of cables proposed by Cape Wind.

In the notice of license application that was distributed at Wednesday's hearing, the state said a PDF copy of Cape Wind's Chapter 91 application can be found at http://www.mass.gov/dep/water/resources/waterway.htm. Viewers should scroll down to "Cape Wind Project."

More information on the project also is available by calling Strysky at 617-2920-5616.
The agency will accept comments until 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 24. They should be addressed to Alex Strysky, DEP Waterways Regulation Program, One Winter St. - 5th Floor, Boston, MA 02108. Comments also can be submitted electronically to Alexander.strysky@state.ma.us.


Source: http://www.capecodtoday.com...

NOV 6 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/17782-state-holds-chapter-91-hearing-on-cape-wind
back to top