Articles filed under Energy Policy from Massachusetts
Just months after House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi killed a bill that was designed to block a controversial liquefied natural gas project from being built on 73 acres in Fall River, the landowner, Jay Cashman, sold the property to the terminal developers and made a $14.2 million profit, according to a Globe review of real estate and legislative records. ...DiMasi said he sought to open up Buzzards Bay to wind farm development because he strongly supports alternative energy, not because Cashman was interested in developing the site. "We don't talk about those things. It was all policy-driven," DiMasi said. Cashman declined to be interviewed. His spokesman, George Regan, said Cashman did not discuss his financial interest in the LNG terminal in Fall River or in the wind farm in Buzzards Bay with the speaker.
A dispute over transmission lines for the proposed Nantucket Sound wind farm landed in court this week. ...Barnstable officials filed a complaint in Barnstable Superior Court Wednesday claiming the Cape Cod Commission has exclusive jurisdiction over the transmission cables that would link the turbines to the shoreline. In October, the commission rejected a plan to have the transmission cables make landfall in Barnstable, and Cape Wind appealed that decision to the state Energy Facilities Siting Board. In the complaint filed Wednesday, Barnstable officials contend the state Energy Facilities Siting Board does not have the authority to review the commission's denial of the transmission lines.
House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, who many on SouthCoast contend aided developer Jay Cashman's effort to sprinkle giant wind turbines across Buzzards Bay, went out on the water today to look at ground zero. Returning to land, he said he remains committed to strongly pushing for renewable energy alternatives, including wind turbine farms, as the state faces an energy crisis. ...Rep. [Rep. John F. Quinn, D-Dartmouth] said the wind turbines could have a potentially serious impact on quality of life for those living along the water as well as impacts on shipping and fishing. He said he invited Rep. DiMasi to view the location because it is highly visible from land and could potentially cause noise and other problems.
Edgartown and the Martha's Vineyard Commission have formally joined the fracas over the wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound. In a petition filed last week with the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board, the Edgartown selectmen declared, for the first time, their opposition to what they consider to be Cape Wind Associates' attempt to circumvent local permitting authorities. ... "In the event that (the siting board) concludes that it may circumvent and override the (Cape Cod Commission), the town advances that such a decision would undermine the authority of the (Martha's Vineyard Commission) and would be detrimental to the town's interests," the selectmen wrote in their petition to intervene. The Edgartown selectmen also raised concerns over the company's attempts to get around local permitting authorities in Yarmouth and Barnstable.
House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi has taken up Rep. John F. Quinn's offer of a boat tour of Buzzards Bay on Wednesday to get a firsthand look at the location of a proposed wind farm. Rep. Quinn, D-Dartmouth, and Speaker DiMasi have been at odds over House legislation that would open up Buzzards Bay and other ocean sanctuaries to large-scale renewable energy development. Rep. Quinn insists Buzzards Bay, with its busy shipping, fishing and recreational routes, is unsuitable for a wind farm for safety and environmental reasons.
With Bay State ocean-based wind energy projects languishing and demand for renewable energy climbing, a top energy official said Wednesday, April 2, that land-based wind development is both an opportunity and a challenge for Massachusetts. Swampscott has investigated the possibility of placing wind turbines in town, most recently through efforts of the Renewable Energy Committee. New England wind energy industry leaders said the land-based wind industry is robust and capable of producing 9,500 megawatts of wind power. Land-based community projects are on the rise in New England, despite stalled high-profile projects like Cape Wind, said industry officials.
Rep. John Quinn, a Democrat from Dartmouth, on Monday invited House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi on a boat tour of Buzzards Bay next month, in an apparent attempt to change DiMasi's mind about wind turbines in those waters. Quinn, who last month delivered perhaps the most restive floor speech of the DiMasi era, sent a letter to the speaker offering to take him around the bay to show the potential sites where Patriot Renewables, a Quincy-based affiliate of Jay Cashman Inc., plans to build wind turbines. South Coast legislators have objected to the quiet insertion of an amendment into the speaker's energy bill that would clear the way for a 120-turbine project developed by Jay Cashman, who is close friends with DiMasi.
According to several MMS officials outside of the auditorium, the pleas of the fishing community were stronger here than they had been in South Yarmouth or on Nantucket. Rodney Cluck, MMS project manager for the Cape Wind development, offered that this is precisely why they hold these meetings. "The DEIS does not take into account the community impact. You can sit in your office for two years working on the science but then you have to get out and listen to what the community has to say." When asked whether or not public opinion could ultimately play a roll in the Interior Department's decision, Mr. Cluck replied that all relevant information would be taken into consideration and that "local knowledge" will contribute to the report made to the Secretary. Supporters were few and far between.
State and regional regulators acknowledge the hurdles - especially in northern New Hampshire - but don't have ready solutions. A bill before the New Hampshire Senate would have the state be ready to act if no regional solution is forthcoming. ISO New England, which manages power for the region, is considering changing rules so more of the costs of transmission upgrades could be shared regionally. But as things stand now, backers of projects generally must pay for upgrades needed to connect them to the system. "None of this is a real speedy process," acknowledges Michael Harrington, senior regional policy adviser for the state Public Utilities Commission.
Last week, however, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a version of the Ocean Management Act which I believe was a Trojan horse to slip through a massive change in the Ocean Sanctuaries Act without public input and without a public hearing. ...The change in the Ocean Sanctuaries Act appears to be an attempt to assist one project proposed by Patriot Renewables to construct 120 wind turbines in Buzzards Bay. Back in 2006, the Secretary of Environmental Affairs ruled that the large scale wind farm proposed by Patriot Renewables is not permitted under the Ocean Sanctuaries Act.
With a major wind farm in the works for Nantucket Sound, and as the town looks into ocean-based sites off Tuckernuck and elsewhere near the island, the Energy Study Committee is taking more of a landlubber's approach to wind power. The committee has submitted an application to the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to have a "Municipal Wind Turbine Site Study" to assess the potential for generating wind power on government-owned land. ..."We don't want to alarm people," said energy commission vice-chair Barbara Gookin. "Just because we're looking at a site, doesn't mean we are going to build a turbine there."
House legislation that would open up Buzzards Bay and other ocean sanctuaries to large-scale, renewable energy projects is likely to face opposition in the Senate, based on reaction from Senate leaders. The House passed an oceans bill Wednesday that would allow renewable energy development along most of the state's coastline. Critics say it would also remove a major obstacle before Boston developer Jay Cashman's proposal to put up to 120 wind turbines in Buzzards Bay. Currently, renewable energy projects only can be put in ocean sanctuaries under special circumstances. The waters off the Cape Cod National Seashore would still be exempt from renewable energy projects.
A House bill that would open up Buzzards Bay and other ocean sanctuaries to large-scale renewable energy projects is likely to face serious opposition in the Senate, based on reaction from Senate leaders yesterday. The House passed an oceans bill Wednesday that would allow renewable energy development along most of the state's coastline, including sanctuaries. Critics say it also would remove a major obstacle to Boston developer Jay Cashman's proposal for as many as 120 wind turbines in Buzzards Bay. Currently, renewable energy projects only can be put in ocean sanctuaries under special circumstances. ...House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, who supports the provision, has said it resolves conflicts in the law. He argues renewable energy projects would still be subject to federal, state and local review. He has denied it was a favor to Cashman, a close friend.
The state House of Representatives approved an ocean management bill last night that would allow renewable energy projects in ocean sanctuaries, removing a major obstacle to a proposal by developer Jay Cashman to build up to 120 wind turbines in Buzzards Bay. Cashman is a close friend of House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi, D-Boston. The oceans bill won preliminary approval from the House, 143-6. It will eventually move to a House-Senate conference panel. The ocean sanctuaries provision has less support in the Senate. ...Rep. Eric Turkington, D-Falmouth, said both the House and Senate ocean bills would allow wind turbines in ocean sanctuaries in some fashion. "The debate about whether wind turbines will be allowed on the Massachusetts coast is over," Turkington said. "The final debate is what's appropriate and where it's appropriate and what compensation the host communities get."
When the House amended an energy bill last November to remove an obstacle to the placement of wind turbines in Buzzards Bay, critics complained that it was done with little notice and no debate. ...House Speaker Salvatore DiMasi has said the amendment merely resolves conflicting language in state law that allowed traditional generating facilities, but not renewables like wind or tidal energy in state waters. Rep. DiMasi said renewable projects would still be subject to local and state approvals. But critics, including several leading environmental groups, say it would open the door to unlimited renewable energy development in Buzzards Bay and most of the Massachusetts coast. It would remove a major obstacle to a proposal by Boston developer Jay Cashman to place up to 120 wind turbines in Buzzards Bay. Mr. Cashman and Rep. DiMasi are close friends, though Rep. DiMasi denies the legislation is a favor.
The Berkshire Wind Project, a $25 million, 10-turbine wind energy project on Brodie Mountain that is facing two lawsuits, is under contract to be sold to a municipal utility consortium for $4 million. Once the sale is completed in May, the new ownership status could render one pending lawsuit moot and prevent new lawsuits from further delaying the project. ...A lawsuit against the project by Silverleaf Resorts, which plans a 332-unit, $42 million condominium project at the former Brodie ski area site off Route 7, has entered a motion to dismiss the legal proceedings. Another lawsuit brought by Silverleaf Resorts and two residents of Hancock, which alleges that a special permit had expired before construction of the project started and that the special permit was not issued legally, could become moot upon completion of the sale. MMWEC, created by the Legislature in 1975, is owned by municipally owned utility companies. It's a nonprofit, publicly owned corporation, and a political subdivision of the state. As such, MMWEC is exempt from local zoning regulations, which would render the second lawsuit no legal grounds.
Do you remember open-book tests, the ones where you could look up the answers to the questions? Those are the kind of tests that Cape Wind has passed. Here are some questions that weren't on the test. What right do you have to build an energy plant in what amounts to an ocean sanctuary? How can you describe the Nantucket Sound project as the harbinger of more offshore energy installations when the Draft Environmental Impact Statement listed so many problems with alternative sites? Why should the project's impact on cultural resources such as Barnstable's historic districts be left unaddressed until some post-approval negotiation over mitigation? How can a state agency charged to overturn the decisions of state and local agencies (if these actions would threaten the provision of adequate and appropriate power supplies) reject a regional regulatory commission's judgment? How, indeed, when the state Legislature that created both decreed that the commission's actions could be challenged only in the courts?
During the Oct. 9 selectmen meeting, Mr. Pitney offered a guarantee that the town would recoup its $18,400 investment through savings in 13 years or he would pay the difference. Town officials have said the installment plan fairly translates that guarantee into contractual language. It was included in the revised contract signed by selectmen Oct. 22. However, Mr. Pitney said he never agreed to what he considers a no-interest financing scheme. "I'm not a bank that loans money out at zero percent interest," Mr. Pitney said in an interview last week. ...Town Meeting's appropriation of $63,400 for the effort remains on the books and must be acted on one way or another, Mr. Coughlin said. If Mr. Pitney drops out, the town probably would have to advertise for bids for a new contractor, he said. Mr. Pitney said that since selectmen signed the contract, MTC has instituted a new standard contract for wind turbine projects. He said he probably will include a copy of that standard contract with his response to the selectmen.
House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, who outraged legislators from coastal communities by ramming through an amendment changing an ocean-protection law that could help a close friend's wind-farm plan, promised yesterday there will be a full debate and vote on the amendment. The pledge was made two months after the House passed a wide-ranging energy bill that had a last-minute DiMasi amendment exempting offshore wind farms from certain restrictions in the state's Ocean Sanctuaries Act. The act bans or sharply restricts most construction in waters close to shore. The only pending proposal directly helped by the amendment, critics said, is a 120-turbine wind project off Dartmouth and Mattapoisett proposed by Boston construction mogul Jay Cashman.
Rep. Patrick Kennedy said yesterday that a wind farm located in Rhode Island waters between Newport and Block Island would be a bad idea because it would hurt the state’s tourism and fishing industries. Those waterways are frequently used by people who sail between the two locations for recreation and racing, said Kennedy, a recreational sailor. “I’m sorry, you can’t tell me that’s not going to affect tourism, the fishing industry and everything else. It just is. There is no other convincing me that it won’t,” he said. ...Asked whether he thought there was any site in Rhode Island waters that would be suitable for a wind farm, Kennedy said, “I don’t think it would be a good idea. A lot of it depends … we’re talking size, location.” He backed off a bit from that statement, saying “I’d have to take a look at it. ... I wouldn’t rule it out.”