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Bourne OKs wind turbine

The first state-owned wind turbine could rise on windswept Taylors Point in less than six months, now that a final regulatory hurdle has been cleared.

BUZZARDS BAY - The first state-owned wind turbine could rise on windswept Taylors Point in less than six months, now that a final regulatory hurdle has been cleared.


An artist's drawing depicts the proposed wind turbine on Taylors Point. The 170-foot turbine will be about 248 feet high when its top blade is vertical.

The single-turbine proposal by the Massachusetts Maritime Academy had been waiting for approval from the Bourne Conservation Commission, which reviewed the project under the state Wetlands Protection Act.

After multiple meetings, the conservation commission approved the plan Thursday with conditions and closed the public hearing on the matter.

Bourne Conservation Agent Heidi Marsella had raised concerns about the proposed turbine, particularly whether it poses a threat to endangered migratory birds. She cited a recommendation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urging preconstruction avian-impact surveys to determine potential impacts on the federally endangered roseate tern.

Though the conservation commission does not have authority to determine whether the turbine might impede or harm migrating birds, the panel recommended in its ''order of conditions'' that the academy consider... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

BUZZARDS BAY - The first state-owned wind turbine could rise on windswept Taylors Point in less than six months, now that a final regulatory hurdle has been cleared.


An artist's drawing depicts the proposed wind turbine on Taylors Point. The 170-foot turbine will be about 248 feet high when its top blade is vertical.

The single-turbine proposal by the Massachusetts Maritime Academy had been waiting for approval from the Bourne Conservation Commission, which reviewed the project under the state Wetlands Protection Act.

After multiple meetings, the conservation commission approved the plan Thursday with conditions and closed the public hearing on the matter.

Bourne Conservation Agent Heidi Marsella had raised concerns about the proposed turbine, particularly whether it poses a threat to endangered migratory birds. She cited a recommendation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service urging preconstruction avian-impact surveys to determine potential impacts on the federally endangered roseate tern.

Though the conservation commission does not have authority to determine whether the turbine might impede or harm migrating birds, the panel recommended in its ''order of conditions'' that the academy consider the advice of the federal agency and conduct studies before breaking ground.

The commission was involved in the review of this project because the proposed site on Taylors Point is in a coastal zone area near wetlands and bird habitat.

Roseate terns congregate annually on Monomoy, off Chatham, but they haven't been spotted near Taylors Point for more than a decade, according to a study cited by Fish and Wildlife Service officials. They also said a new study would provide fresh data and establish whether the turbine is dangerous to terns or other migratory birds that might fly through the project area.

Such a study could delay the project for up to five years, according to academy officials.

While the Fish and Wildlife Service did not play a regulatory role in this project, the agency would get involved if the academy were found in violation of either the Endangered Species Act or the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The federal statutes would be triggered if an endangered tern were to die after colliding with the turbine, for example. That could result in fines, delays or suspension of the project.

Academy officials argue the proposed turbine poses minimal risks to birds and its clean-energy benefits outstrip potential threats.

''We were understanding of the protracted process because of the newness of the turbine. ... But we were pleased with the commission's approval of the project,'' Adm. Richard G. Gurnon, president of the maritime academy, said Friday.

The wind energy project is expected to cost about $1.3 million and save the academy about $250,000 annually in energy costs. The academy's yearly electric bill is around $600,000.

Savings to the academy are really savings to the taxpayer, according to Gurnon, since the maritime college is a state-owned institution.

The three-blade, 660-kilowatt turbine will stand nearly 248 feet when its top blade is vertical, though the tower itself is only 170 feet.

The turbine will likely be installed in sections over the course of a few days, beginning in April.

The Federal Aviation Administration determined last month the turbine would not pose hazards to air navigation, though it required flashing warning lights on the structure.

The FAA must be notified five days before construction reaches its greatest height, according to John DiModica, the state Division of Capital Asset Management official overseeing the project for the commonwealth.

Fish and Wildlife officials say the turbine is unlikely to endanger roseate terns as long as it's not operating when birds are in the area.

To that end, academy officials have agreed to shut down the turbine when terns are present. In such cases school officials would temporarily cede control to state wildlife officials, who would determine when operation of the turbine could resume.

''The liability is ours,'' Gurnon said.

Vernon Lang, assistant supervisor of the New England Field Office of the Fish and Wildlife Service in Concord, N.H., said it would make ''eminent sense'' for the academy to study the site for wildlife impacts before work gets under way.

''Applicants need to take a hard look before they invest millions of dollars,'' Lang told the Times in an interview earlier this month.

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

NOV 21 2005
https://www.windaction.org/posts/570-bourne-oks-wind-turbine
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