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Turbine venture defeats detractors

A group of town residents and state environmentalists has lost a legal challenge against the Hoosac Wind Project, a 30-megawatt turbine venture planned for Bakke Mountain in Florida and Crum Hill in Monroe. Their case - which hinged on permitting - attempted to reverse the state Department of Environmental Protection's June 2007 decision to grant a wetlands permit for the estimated $45 million project. Eleanor Tillinghast, president of Green Berkshires, a plaintiff in the case, said an appeal is being considered.

FLORIDA - A group of town residents and state environmentalists has lost a legal challenge against the Hoosac Wind Project, a 30-megawatt turbine venture planned for Bakke Mountain in Florida and Crum Hill in Monroe.
Their case - which hinged on permitting - attempted to reverse the state Department of Environmental Protection's June 2007 decision to grant a wetlands permit for the estimated $45 million project.

Eleanor Tillinghast, president of Green Berkshires, a plaintiff in the case, said an appeal is being considered.

"We thought and continue to think that we have a strong case, and we're deciding whether to take it to the next level of appeal," Tillinghast said. "We thought that the wetlands permit was issued improperly and there were flaws in the reasons given for the permit."

The plaintiffs have until March 26 to appeal the ruling to the Massachusetts Court of Appeals, according to the Massachusetts Attorney General's office.

Paul Copleman, the spokesman for Iberdrola Renewables, the company that owns New England Wind LLC, which, in turn, owns the Hoosac Wind Project, said they hope the project can move forward soon.

"We still feel that the project is a good wind site and would be good for the state... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

FLORIDA - A group of town residents and state environmentalists has lost a legal challenge against the Hoosac Wind Project, a 30-megawatt turbine venture planned for Bakke Mountain in Florida and Crum Hill in Monroe.
Their case - which hinged on permitting - attempted to reverse the state Department of Environmental Protection's June 2007 decision to grant a wetlands permit for the estimated $45 million project.

Eleanor Tillinghast, president of Green Berkshires, a plaintiff in the case, said an appeal is being considered.

"We thought and continue to think that we have a strong case, and we're deciding whether to take it to the next level of appeal," Tillinghast said. "We thought that the wetlands permit was issued improperly and there were flaws in the reasons given for the permit."

The plaintiffs have until March 26 to appeal the ruling to the Massachusetts Court of Appeals, according to the Massachusetts Attorney General's office.

Paul Copleman, the spokesman for Iberdrola Renewables, the company that owns New England Wind LLC, which, in turn, owns the Hoosac Wind Project, said they hope the project can move forward soon.

"We still feel that the project is a good wind site and would be good for the state of Massachusetts," he said.

The 20, 1.5-megawatt wind turbines would have a total capacity of 30 megawatts, enough to power 9,000 homes.

Town officials in Florida, where budget issues are threatening to curtail local services, are also hoping the project moves forward so they can enter into an agreement with the developer which would include an annual payment to the town in lieu of taxes.

According to Christine Dobbert, town administrator, members of the Board of Selectmen are "keeping their fingers crossed."

"We are very relieved and hoping it is done and over with," Dobbert said. "We're just keeping our fingers crossed that they don't appeal."

An appeal would go to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, where a ruling could take nine to 18 months. A further appeal to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court would stand little chance of being heard: An average of one in 10 cases are accepted by that court.

Officials at the DEP say this project is an important element in the state's initiative for more renewable energy generation in Massachusetts.

"We are pleased that the Superior Court justice has upheld the final decision of the DEP commissioner concerning the Hoosac Wind farm issue and we look forward to the project advancing," said Ed Coletta, spokesman for the DEP. "The DEP, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs support renewable energy projects, and this would be one of a number of projects that would come on line in the months and years to come so we can have renewable energy as a major part of our energy portfolio."

So far in the oft-litigated project, one ruling has gone in favor of the plaintiffs, and two have favored the wind project.

The project, begun in 2004, had its original permit withdrawn in February 2005, when the two groups appealed DEP's wetlands permit to an administrative magistrate.

More than two years later, in May 2007, Administrative Magistrate Natalie S. Monroe ruled against the DEP's permit. She took issue with the standards for defining annual flood level measurements in the construction zone, and she predicted potential damage to protected wetland zones during construction.

In June 2007, DEP acting Commissioner Arlene O'Donnell had overruled the advisory decision of an administrative magistrate that some of the stream beds would be compromised beyond what's allowed by the construction of access roads. Her final ruling cleared the way for a new DEP wetlands permit. But on July 20, 2007, the opponents appealed her decision to the Suffolk Superior Court in Boston, alleging that O'Donnell's decision should be overturned.

The court hearing for the latest challenge was in August 2008.

The resulting ruling, issued on Jan. 21 by Superior Court Justice Frank M. Gaziano, denied the pleading of the so-called "Group of 10" that the acting commissioner did not consider evidence as required by DEP regulations, and denied the plaintiff's request for a stay and injunction to prevent the project from moving forward.

The average cost of building a wind farm in 2006, according to the 2007 Annual Report on U.S. Wind Power issued by the U.S. Department of Energy, ran about $1,480 per kilowatt of capacity, putting the cost of building a 30-watt wind project at about $44.4 million.

Copleman, spokesman for Iberdrola Renewables, declined to release an estimate on the projected cost of the project, saying the company considers that information proprietary.


Source: http://www.berkshireeagle.c...

FEB 13 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/19060-turbine-venture-defeats-detractors
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