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The 2011 Year in Review

This roundup is not exhaustive. If your group has an achievement or important event that is not included here, please email info@windwisema.org to add to this 2011 Year in Review.

January

1/20/11               The land-based Wind Energy Siting Reform Act (WESRA) is re-filed. Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts (WWMA) files three bills (calling for transparency in electric bills, a commission to study the cumulative costs of green initiatives, and a commission to study health effects of wind turbines).

February

2/8/11                  The Brewster Planning Board scraps a regional turbine project by taking no action on a special permit for the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative to lease land and operate twin 410-foot turbines.

2/28/11               Falmouth selectmen vote to turn off the town’s “Wind 1” turbine when winds exceed 23 mph.

March

3/3/11                  First Wind withdraws its proposal to build an industrial wind project in Brimfield.  Two weeks after NSTAR pulled out of its deal to buy electricity from Brimfield Wind, First Wind said there was insufficient wind.

April

4/20/11               The Cape Cod Commission sets new standards to require setbacks and noise studies but does not act on height restrictions.

4/26/11               200 Dennis residents turn out to reject two warrant articles to move forward with a turbine project on district land.

May

Charlton adopts a 2,500-foot distance setback between the base of wind turbines and any existing dwelling or building. Several large turbines have been proposed in separate projects.

5/3/11                 The Blandford Town Meeting resoundingly defeats a bylaw amendment that would have permitted construction and operation of wind turbines. The vote is 139 to 12.

June

6/2/11                  Wareham’s Town Meeting repeals a five-year-old wind energy bylaw, which may block the “Bog Wind” proposal for eight industrial wind turbines nearly 500 feet tall. The group Wareham Residents Opposed to Bog Wind, attracts more than 100 members.

6/8/11                  Wind Wise members from the Cape, the Berkshires, the Hilltowns, and central MA testify in Boston on S1646 – An act promoting transparency in electric bills.

6/10/11               New Generation Wind reduces its Bournedale wind farm proposal by two turbines because of proximity to homes and utility rights-of-way.

6/25/11               The website windwisema.org launches.

July

7/12/11               Wind Wise (WWMA) members testify before the legislature’s joint environmental committee regarding renewable energy investment commission.

7/14/11               WWMA members testify before the legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy (TUE) about the need for a commission to audit renewable energy investment.

7/17/11            WWMA submits a 16-page supporting document to the DEP regarding the health impacts of wind turbines.  The document included 35 referenced footnotes from scholarly journals and peer-reviewed studies and several pages of personal stories from people living with wind turbines in Massachusetts and around the world

7/22/11                WWMA, joined by 400 residents from 106 cities and towns, files a petition to the Commissioners of Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Department of Public Health (DPH) calling for a moratorium on new wind turbine siting due to the health effects being felt worldwide by people living near wind turbines

August

8/21/11               Wind Wise ~ Massachusetts starts a Facebook page.

September

9/7/11                  Approximately 100 people attend a hearing in the Berkshire town of Hancock on WESRA held by the joint TUE committee. The vast majority of people testified in opposition to this bill, with concerns about health impacts, loss of tourism, and loss of local control over siting.

9/8/11                 Members of WWMA meet with the DEP and DPH to discuss: the DEP-DPH wind science panel and it’s lack of transparency and biased members; the desire to have the  previously-submitted health impacts material posted at the DEP website; and the MassCEC-DEP wind turbine noise protocol being prepared by a pro-wind noise consultant.

9/9/11                  The Town of Brewster officially put its wind turbine project on hold this week after county officials tell selectmen that solar power is more economically feasible.

9/12/11               The sWINDle billboard message is mounted in Pittsfield.

9/24/11               Windfall is shown to a sell-out crowd at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield.

October

Boards of Selectmen join others across the state in sending letters to oppose the loss of local control in the proposed WESRA bill.

10/3/11               Dr. Nina Pierpont does medical interviews of residents of Falmouth whose health has been impacted by industrial wind turbines

10/18/11             WWMA members from Brimfield and Wellfleet testify at the Joint Committee for Public Health’s hearing on the bill to establish a commission on health impacts of wind turbines.

10/19/11             Lenox selectmen appoint a town wind energy research panel of 6 members to study a proposal to install 2 municipal wind turbines within the town’s drinking water watershed.

10/20/11             WWMA members from Eastern and Central MA and the Cape testify at the TUE’s second hearing on WESRA at Barnstable High School. After hearing testimony by Falmouth residents, whose health is being impacted by industrial wind turbines, Joint Committee co-chair Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, said the committee would ask the state DEP and DPH Science Panel to meet with Falmouth residents as part of a review of health impacts from the operation of wind turbines.

10/22/11             The Mass. DEP posts on its Wind Docket website some of the public comments and documents on the health impacts of wind turbines.

10/24/11             The Dartmouth Select Board votes unanimously to terminate plans to build two wind turbines.

November

11/7/11               Falmouth Town Meeting considers an article to suspend operations of its active and under-construction municipal wind turbines until pending research and studies prove no harm is being done to nearby residents. The town brokers a deal that closes down Wind 1 until the April 2012 annual town meeting and starts up Wind 2 for a two-month study period.

11/9/11               The joint TUE committee holds a hearing to review the Green Communities Act. Attorney General Martha Coakley testifies that Bay State ratepayers will pay $4 billion in extra charges on electric bills over the next four years from renewable energy costs.

11/11/11             A wind project in Fairhaven resurfaces after 3 year with the surprise site clearing work that occurred on Veteran’s Day. Fairhaven’s town counsel said that the project did not need a special permit because it is a municipal project, the building inspector issued a building permit, and the conservation commission issued permits for the site clearing work. Windwise~Fairhaven has retained a lawyer and is challenging the project in court.

11/12-13/11      Windfall plays in Salem and Newburyport

11/17/11             Shelburne’s ZBA meeting attracts 250 residents from several hilltowns to question a $40 million, eight-turbine Mount Massaemet wind farm proposal. The developer withdrew the application for a special permit. Shelburne, Buckland, and surrounding town residents have formed numerous study and opposition groups.

December

12/2/11               The Franklin County Regional Planning Board sends a letter to the state legislators and officials cautioning that the wind energy siting reform act (WESRA) will significantly restrict communities’ home rule authority by consolidating and expediting the permitting of industrial wind projects.

12/5/11               Senate President Therese Murray withdraws her support of WESRA at a Berkshire Chamber of Commerce meeting.

12/8/11               The Ashfield Wind Turbine Siting By-Law Advisory Committee presents findings to residents at an informational forum in Town Hall. The findings will be given to the Planning Board for use in preparing a zoning bylaw. Recommendations include establishing a 3400-foot setback and the most stringent regulations to date regarding turbine noise.

12/12/11             In Northboro a report says the proposed location for a wind turbine is not economically feasible due to insufficient wind speeds. But the town engineer wants to put one on Pisgah Mountain instead.

12/14/11             Ben Downing, Senate Chair of the joint TUE committee announces at an energy forum in Great Barrington that he is recommending WESRA go to study, effectively killing the siting bill for this legislative session.

12/22/11             The Swampscott Renewable Energy Committee votes unanimously to reject a study’s recommendation to erect an approximately 350-foot-tall wind turbine behind the middle school.

12/26/11             The McPherson Study by Ambrose and Rand is released. It concludes that low frequency sounds are more intense indoors than outdoors. Data was collected inside a home located 1,700 feet from the NOTUS industrial wind turbine in Falmouth MA. An independent review of the acoustic data indicates it is scientifically valid.

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