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State siting board hears wind farm dispute

A state panel that could ease regulatory hurdles for the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm has begun to umpire a contentious debate over who should have authority to issue a transmission cable permit for the project. Yesterday, in a small hearing room above Boston's South Station Transportation Center, attorneys for Cape Wind Associates, the Cape Cod Commission and other groups interested in the project skirmished over the cable permit issue before representatives of the state Energy Facilities Siting Board.

A state panel that could ease regulatory hurdles for the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm has begun to umpire a contentious debate over who should have authority to issue a transmission cable permit for the project.

Yesterday, in a small hearing room above Boston's South Station Transportation Center, attorneys for Cape Wind Associates, the Cape Cod Commission and other groups interested in the project skirmished over the cable permit issue before representatives of the state Energy Facilities Siting Board.

During yesterday's hearing, the Cape Cod Commission's attorney, Eric Wodlinger, repeatedly pushed for the siting board to consider the potential impacts of the turbines in their decision, including effects on radar, the environment and the price of electricity.

"I think the cost of electricity is something the board must take account of," Wodlinger said during questioning of Craig Olmsted, Cape Wind's vice president for project development, and Christopher Rein, a senior vice president for ESS Group Inc., a consultant for Cape Wind.

An appendix in a draft environmental report on Cape Wind released by the U.S. Minerals Management Service in January contains information... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A state panel that could ease regulatory hurdles for the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm has begun to umpire a contentious debate over who should have authority to issue a transmission cable permit for the project.

Yesterday, in a small hearing room above Boston's South Station Transportation Center, attorneys for Cape Wind Associates, the Cape Cod Commission and other groups interested in the project skirmished over the cable permit issue before representatives of the state Energy Facilities Siting Board.

During yesterday's hearing, the Cape Cod Commission's attorney, Eric Wodlinger, repeatedly pushed for the siting board to consider the potential impacts of the turbines in their decision, including effects on radar, the environment and the price of electricity.

"I think the cost of electricity is something the board must take account of," Wodlinger said during questioning of Craig Olmsted, Cape Wind's vice president for project development, and Christopher Rein, a senior vice president for ESS Group Inc., a consultant for Cape Wind.

An appendix in a draft environmental report on Cape Wind released by the U.S. Minerals Management Service in January contains information on the possible cost of electricity from Cape Wind that the Cape Cod Commission did not have at the time of its decision, Wodlinger said.

Although that information may not have been deemed relevant in a previous siting board decision to approve the transmission cables, the statute regulating an attempt to override the Cape Cod Commission's denial decision was different and required the siting board to look at the new information, he said.

Kathryn Sedor, presiding officer for the siting board at the Cape Wind hearing, disagreed.

There have been only three or four similar proceedings undertaken by the siting board, Sedor said, adding she would allow some latitude in Wodlinger's line of questioning because not all questions about how the statute should be interpreted have been answered.

But, she said, "the cost of the electricity generated by the wind farm would be outside the scope of this proceeding."

During the daylong session, Wodlinger and attorneys from the town of Barnstable and the anti-Cape Wind group the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound hammered on the contention that parts of the project in federal waters must be considered by the siting board. They cited the effect of the turbines on marine life and aerial radar and the potential impact of an oil spill from the wind turbines on state administered territory.

Cape Wind's plans call for the turbines to be constructed in federal waters.

The hearing continues tomorrow, with Cape Wind attorneys expected to cross-examine Cape Cod Commission staff. The hearing will continue next week if necessary.

What's next

Tomorrow, the hearing continues on Cape Wind's petition before the state Energy Facilities Siting Board to override the Cape Cod Commission's denial of transmission cables for the project and Cape Wind's request that the siting board issue a so-called "super permit" that would grant eight local and state permits for the project. The hearing will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday if necessary. There is no deadline for when the siting board will issue any rulings.

A final environmental impact statement - a review of Cape Wind's plan by the U.S. Minerals Management Service - is expected by the end of the year. Once that review is complete, the Minerals Management Service will file a record of decision on the project. That decision would guide other federal, state and local agencies as they consider Cape Wind's applications for construction permits. Cape Wind continues to face several court challenges, including a likely appeal of the pending siting board decisions to the state Supreme Judicial Court.

Cape Wind is asking the siting board to overturn a Cape Cod Commission denial of two 115-kilovolt cables required to connect the 130 wind turbines the company wants to build in the sound to the region's electric grid. Cape Wind has also requested that the siting board issue a composite certificate, or so-called "super permit," that would encompass eight local and state permits necessary for the project to proceed.


Source: http://www.capecodonline.co...

NOV 13 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/17865-state-siting-board-hears-wind-farm-dispute
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