Deval Patrick's Wind Energy Siting Reform Act

As it did last year, the Patrick administration is pushing alaw regarding the regulation of land-based wind turbines.  It's called the Wind Energy Siting Reform Act.  Last year, this act passed the House but diedin the Senate when the session ended before it was considered.

According to today's Cape Cod Times, the following is a highlevel summary of this bill:

  • It applies to:
    • Land-based turbines only (does not affect offshore turbines)
    • Areas deemed by the state to be "significant wind resource areas", including all of Cape Cod and the Islands.
    • Projects 2 MW or larger in size (Note:  This act would have applied to the Town of Falmouth turbines if the two 1.6 MW turbines were considered together.  Ditto for the recently defeated pair of Brewster turbines whose capacities were 1.8 MW each.  The act would obviously apply to the proposed 6 turbine Bournedale project with its of 2.5 MW and 3.0  MW turbines).
  • Turbines would first undergo review by local siting boards
  • If a local siting board approves a project then opponents could appeal:
    • First to the State Energy Facilities Siting Board (EFSB)
    • Second to the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC)
  • If a local siting board denies a project, a developer could appeal to a Superior Court or to a Land Court

The debate comes down to where control over the approval ofturbine projects should reside.  Supporters of the bill argue that somecontrol should be delegated to the State.  Opponents argue for complete local control.   To wit:

Consider where this country would be if it had left allcontrol for the construction of highways, long distance transmission lines, reservoirs,etc. at the local level.  We'd have precious fewof those things today.

On the other hand, if we'd left those large projects completelyin the hands of the State, important local considerations would have beenignored.  It goes without saying that localopinion is very relevant and that localsknow the local situation best.

It's important to remember that this should NOT be an all ornothing debate.  That is, we need not actas if there are just two alternatives available us:  Total local control and total State control.  In fact, as the above summary shows, the proposedbill would divide control between local boards and the State.

Perhaps the bill should be altered to give local boardsadditional control.  But the bill DOES NOTeliminate all local control as some are saying. Nor is total local control appropriate. 

 

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