Articles filed under Energy Policy from Massachusetts
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.
The winds of change blew through the country this election week and the town of Orleans is once again making moves to harness one of Cape Cod's most abundant resources for energy. The board of selectmen agreed to allow the renewable energy/wind committee to use about $10,000 allocated by a 2003 town meeting vote for wind energy to study putting a wind turbine in the town's watershed. The committee said the plan was to examine placing one wind turbine in the watershed reviving an issue many thought was killed for good last year.
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.
The Ocean State recently granted a New Jersey-based renewable energy firm the right to build an industrial-size wind farm about 20 miles off the coast of Rhode Island. DeepwaterWind CEO Chris Brown told the Associated Press his firm builds turbines on large platforms originally designed for offshore drilling rigs, which means they can operate in deep waters and out of sight of land. He expects to build around 100 turbines offshore. "What we've really focused on is that we want to be beyond the horizon," Brown said. "We don't think that you have to choose between...the view and the environment."
The city has scheduled a public hearing Monday at 6:30 p.m. to discuss a proposal to ease the city's 50-foot building height limitation to allow wind turbines in industrial zones. The hearing will be conducted by the Planning Board and the Town Council's Economic Development Committee. It will be held in the public meeting room of the Police Department on High Street. Town Councilor William F. Martin, who is also chairman of the Greenfield Redevelopment Authority is seeking the change.
In July, the Bay State's House passed a resolution in support of efforts to have independent safety assessments conducted at nuclear power plants in Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. ...The Legislature also resolved that it's time the nation begin its transition "away from nuclear power to an affordable, clean and sustainable national energy policy." ..."I understand the concerns raised by the Commonwealth," wrote Samuel J. Collins, an NRC regional administrator, in response to the resolution. "However, I feel it is necessary to address some of the statements and assumptions conveyed in that document to dispel any misconceptions you may have ..."
Visitors to Rehoboth Beach, Del., soon may be greeted by more than sand dunes, seagulls and beach umbrellas. If offshore wind advocates have their way, scores of 140-foot blades will be spinning in the ocean breeze nearly a dozen miles away, barely visible to the sunbathers. Offshore wind has taken a back seat to offshore drilling for oil and natural gas in the current energy debate.
In a move which acknowledges almost a year of bureaucratic missteps, Aquinnah selectmen have announced their plan to scrap an energy district of critical planning concern, created to help push through a pioneering bylaw on wind turbines. But those involved have voiced a determination not to give up on an initiative ...Earlier this week selectman Camille Rose scheduled a hearing to rescind the energy district with the Martha's Vineyard Commission for Sept. 16. If approved, it will end the energy district and lift the building moratorium.
A company that wants to build a floating wind farm off the coast of Martha's Vineyard has received a boost from the state's congressional delegation. In a letter dated June 26, the entire Massachusetts delegation asked the U.S. Minerals Management Service to review an application by Blue H USA LLC for a lease to test floating platform technology and collect data at the site for the proposed wind farm. The company announced the congressional support for its application at its U.S. headquarters in Boston yesterday.
Wind farms are springing up in Midwestern fields, along Appalachian ridgelines, and even in Texas backyards. They're everywhere, it seems, except in the windy coastal waters that lap at some of America's largest, most power-hungry cities. That's partly because the first large-scale effort to harness sea breezes in the U.S. hit resistance from an army led by the rich and famous, waging a not-on-my-beach campaign. For almost eight years the critics have stalled the project, called Cape Wind, which aims to place 130 turbines in Nantucket Sound about five miles south of Cape Cod.
Massachusetts' first major energy bill in a decade has hit a snag over a provision that would require utilities to secure part of their power from gasified coal-fired plants, groups on both sides of the debate said Monday. Environmentalists and industry advocates are at odds over an alternative portfolio standard, a requirement that works much like a renewable portfolio standard. But in this case, the utilities are required to purchase a set amount of power from gasified coal-fired generation, combined heat and power and other alternatives. ...Angela O'Connor, president of the New England Power Generators Association, said that environmental groups need a "reality check" when it comes to portfolio planning in New England.
Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law Wednesday a measure that will establish the nation's first management and protection plan for a state's ocean waters. The law sets ground rules for all offshore projects and businesses, including energy ventures and conservation areas that lie in state waters. The state controls all water within three miles of the coast, about 1.6 million acres of water. ...The law comes as numerous projects are being proposed for the waters off Massachusetts. They include liquid natural gas terminals, wind farms, and sand and gravel mining operations. Currently, the state approves projects case by case. The law acts much like zoning, laying out what can be built where.
A local company has lost out on part of a $45 million project in the Midwest because federal tax incentives for renewable energy sources - an integral part of the economics of all renewable energy projects - are set to expire on Dec. 31. Roughly $200 million invested in two Pittsfield projects that would produce up to 50 megawatts of energy and 50 million gallons of biodiesel is also likely to be affected. Two wind turbine projects in North County that would collectively produce nearly 38 megawatts of energy could also face significant funding obstacles. ...If the extension fails, Fairbank, of EOS, said, on Jan. 1, "the industry just takes a massive blow because you just can't make the economics of these projects work without incentives."
In Berkshire County, where three paper mills have closed and a water bottling company has balked on plans for a new facility all because of the high cost of power, small and medium-size businesses are reeling. Local economic development officials are seeing the hills that they must climb to attract new businesses — and retain existing ones — grow ever steeper as Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECO) continues to increase its commercial rates for power. This is the setting that U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry chose for a field hearing of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, during which local business leaders will testify on the cost of energy and the effect it is having on their ability to make a profit and maintain employment levels.
The state ocean management bill, a compromise hammered out by a conference committee last week and approved by the House and Senate this week, is a mix of good and bad. On the positive side, the compromise scuttles House-passed legislation that would have opened Buzzards Bay and other state ocean sanctuaries to unlimited renewable energy development. If Gov. Deval Patrick signs the new bill, the state would only allow "appropriate scaled" projects in ocean sanctuaries. Of course, "appropriate-scaled" still needs to be defined. ... Given the need for renewable energy, the bill is a good compromise, and state Sen. Robert O'Leary, D-Barnstable, should be commended for his role in securing the positive aspects of the legislation. ...At the same time, Patrick could make the bill even better.
Gov. Deval Patrick is expected to give quick approval to a first-in-the-nation ocean management act that would decide how and where projects such as wind turbines and LNG terminals could be built in state waters. The legislation would also open up most of the state's ocean sanctuaries to renewable energy development, including Boston developer Jay Cashman's proposal for a wind farm in Buzzards Bay. The renewable energy projects would have to comply with the terms of the ocean management plan, to be written by Dec. 31, 2009, and approved by the state secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
Supporters and opponents of the Town Hall wind turbine have each been given new ammunition in their fight over whether to build a town-financed turbine. Data from a test tower built by Lees Market on the west side of Main Road shows better energy potential than first expected, but a report on small wind turbines says energy production estimates are often too optimistic. The Board of Selectmen received both reports last week when it met to vote on a contract to build a 120-foot turbine behind Town Hall. No vote was taken on the contract, and the board will resume discussions tonight.
The [New England] region's power system has had a long history of dependability, but electricity costs have been an issue for businesses and residents for decades. As the region plans ahead, New England's policymakers face a series of decisions that will have an abiding impact on our energy future. ...Economic, reliability and environmental goals are not always perfectly aligned when it comes to electricity generation and transmission. Whatever path policymakers choose to take will require trade-offs. How New England officials balance these sometimes conflicting goals will demonstrate our priorities, impact the regional economy and determine which objectives we can realistically achieve.
A landmark bill designed to better manage everything from wind farms to whale watching in the coastal waters off Massachusetts is making its way through the Statehouse and could emerge from a key legislative committee as soon as this week. ...A single, compromise version of the bill is expected to be released this week. ...Senate President Therese Murray, D-Plymouth said the bill is needed as the ocean waters are increasingly coming under pressure. "Our ocean is the last great stretch that has not yet been developed," Murray said when the Senate approved their version of the bill. "We have well-established laws for planning how we use our land, but nothing for our ocean."
The state would open up ocean sanctuaries to renewable energy development under a legislative agreement that could allow a controversial wind farm in Buzzards Bay to be built under certain conditions. ...Under current law, development can only take place in the state's ocean sanctuaries if it is deemed a "public necessity." The five protected sanctuaries are on the North Shore, Cape Cod Bay, the southern Cape and islands and Buzzards Bay. The new law would allow renewable energy projects, but they would be subject to an ocean management plan to be drawn up by a special commission by Dec. 31, 2009, according to people familiar with the agreement. The commission will decide the specific regulations, including allowable distance from shore, scale and type of technology, community benefits and environmental impact.