Articles filed under Energy Policy from Massachusetts
Despite ongoing protests from a handful of small farmers, the Martha's Vineyard Commission last Thursday continued on its path to develop regulations for wind turbines at sea and on land, voting to designate a sweeping land-based district of critical planning concern (DCPC) for airspace over the Island. ...The vote triggers a one-year moratorium on wind turbines over 150 feet in the five Island towns, while rules are developed.
Well, it took nearly seven years, but the federal government is finally poised to implement a comprehensive ocean management plan. When the developers of Cape Wind staked a claim in the middle of Nantucket Sound, it became painfully obvious that the nation lacked an effective marine regulatory process that included local and regional stakeholders.
County officials are pushing for more local control over wind energy projects in state ocean waters. Barnstable County commissioners voted yesterday to nominate an area from roughly 1,500 feet off the coast to 3 miles out for greater protections from unwanted development. The targeted area, which includes Cape Cod Bay, covers roughly 900 square miles of water that might otherwise be open to wind energy developers.
It's good that Ian Bowles, state secretary of energy and environmental affairs, has dampened Martha's Vineyard ire over wind power planning with a significant concession. He will, it seems, give the Martha's Vineyard Commission the final say over coastal wind farm proposals close to island shores. ...The plan does have the feel of hasty work to satisfy a legislative deadline without full consideration of alternatives, especially after state officials have acknowledged that large-scale wind farms belong farther out, in federal waters.
State wind energy siting legislation that's been criticized by some West County town officials will be the subject of a Franklin County Planning Board meeting this week. The proposed Wind Energy Siting Reform Act, designed to speed development of wind turbine farms -- primarily in western Franklin County and on Cape Cod -- will be discussed by the board at a 7 p.m. meeting Thursday.
In the darkening recession, Gov. Deval Patrick and the Legislature have dialed back funding for education, social services and local aid. But energy efficiency and renewable energy development - promised as a salvation for economic growth - have been spared. ...Wind power is far from becoming an everyday reality, despite the state's tax incentives. It would take 15 years for a small business owner who constructs a wind turbine to realize the $40,000 investment for a 10 kilowatt installation, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Gov. Deval Patrick has signed a bill designed to streamline the state's push for renewable energy. The new law transfers the state's Renewable Energy Trust to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, creating a single agency responsible for encouraging the development of renewable energy technologies.
Hard to imagine that the state agency we entrust with managing our shoreline is clueless about the fact that there are lots of recreational boaters off Salisbury Beach. But that appears to be the case with the state's Coastal Zone Management agency, which is taking another look at its plans to potentially allow wind farms immediately off Salisbury's coast after receiving "new data" that indicates there's boating and lobstering going on out there.
For many of those who have organized the effort to gain maximum local control over wind energy projects in nearby state waters, the superficial argument is that Islanders should decide what affects them. In fact, the underlying motivation is the determination to block developments that will change what we see and hear when we look out from the shore. It is a not-in-our-backyard argument. And, that's exactly the right argument for Islanders to make. The calculations that must form the foundation for a decision on such things as wind energy developments on or near the shores of Dukes County are tricky and crucial.
A Patrick administration proposal that critics say would strip local control from the siting of wind turbines is still awaiting action on Beacon Hill. And some West County town officials say revisions in the legislation don't go far enough in addressing their concerns. The Hawley Planning Board wrote this week to Gov. Deval Patrick and area legislators opposing the Wind Energy Siting Reform Act.
With more than a third of the major wind-energy projects in Massachusetts stalled by lawsuits or permit appeals, the Patrick administration has proposed a landmark bill that would streamline the state’s appeals process and make it possible to win approval of such projects much more quickly. Massachusetts now generates less than 1 percent of the nation’s wind energy, about 9 megawatts ...Without a change in the permitting process the state will not meet Governor Deval Patrick’s goal of producing 2,000 megawatts of wind power, enough for 800,000 homes, by 2020.
To municipal wind power advocates, net metering is the Holy Grail. ...Net metering provisions virtually double what municipalities are currently paid for the power they generate through renewable energy. It also allowed the towns to get credits at the wholesale rate for their power ...But some Cape municipal and county officials are worried that wind turbines that are still in the planning stages will not get the benefits of net metering because of a cap the state Legislature imposed on the total amount of power that could be generated under the program.
The delegation, which includes representatives of every Island board of selectmen, the Dukes County Commission, Martha's Vineyard Commission and the Wampanoag tribe, has been trying without success for almost three weeks to get a meeting with the governor. Instead, the governor's office offered them time with the chief architect of the plan, the Secretary of the Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Ian Bowles.
State energy and environmental officials assured Islanders that their voices will be heard and their concerns considered as the state's draft Ocean Plan nears finalization on December 31. "The secretary's perspective is that we're not going to ram our projects down the throats of a place that doesn't want them," said Deerin Babb-Brott, an assistant secretary to Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles.
Two utility-scale wind projects on hold in Berkshire County, with a combined 45 megawatts of capacity, would expand wind generated electricity in the state by about 500 percent and power the equivalent of 15,000 homes, according to local and state officials. But both are tied up in litigation filed by local property owners, and one of the projects has been delayed for more than five years. A bill pending in the Legislature might cut the time needed for permitting, eliminating much of the litigation-generated delays.
Mr. Bowles is under fire from Vineyarders who object to the possibility that the state's ocean management plan, whose creation Mr. Bowles supervised, will write Vineyard regulators, the Martha's Vineyard Commission in particular, out of the picture when nearshore energy projects seek development permits. But, in a wide-ranging discussion of energy issues Tuesday, the imperturbable Mr. Bowles offered an unvarnished and concrete sense of his and the state's view of what lies ahead, in the form of renewable energy project siting south of Cape Cod.
Ian Bowles, Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, said Tuesday that the state is prepared to listen to the concerns Islanders have about provisions of the Oceans Act. He said that while Islanders have focused on the designation of areas west of the Vineyard for wind farm development, the state is actively exploring the potential for wind farm development in federal waters well south of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard.
Officials from the state Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs are likely to catch an earful from Martha's Vineyard residents tonight over the proposed Massachusetts Oceans Management Plan. The public hearing begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School cafeteria. The draft plan severely limits the island's regulatory control over the development of renewable energy projects within three miles of shore. ...Madden said the chief architect of the oceans plan is Ian Bowles. "Ian Bowles is very pro-wind and he wants to see these things get done, and done quickly," Madden told the Gazette.
The Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) last Thursday voted 12 to 1 to accept a nomination to create an Island wind district of critical planning concern (DCPC) that would cover the airspace above 220 feet over the waters of Dukes County. The purpose of the DCPC is to provide a framework to regulate large-scale wind turbine development, according to the MVC. ...Acceptance of a nomination immediately triggers a moratorium on development permits.
The city announced yesterday it is one of 103 Massachusetts cities and towns to receive a planning assistance grant from the Green Communities Program from state Department of Energy Resources. The grant will help communities like Newburyport take the necessary steps to becoming official Green Communities by providing free technical assistance to reach a set of pre-written standards.