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DPU Siting Questions

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities has an open comment period until February 6 2014 and is holding hearings around the state on the categories listed below.

(DPU 13-165 More infoSchedule and Directions).

Their rationale is:

It is the Department’s intent for the guidance to assist permitting authorities, developers, and the public in achieving better siting outcomes for WEFs through more consistent use of best practices.

In this proceeding, the Department intends to focus on the following categories of issues in developing guidance:

A. Design.

  • maximum height,
  • often differentiated by turbine category (i.e., small/residential or utility-scale);
  • setbacks from adjacent property lines, roads, and structures;
  • turbine appearance;
  • lighting of the turbines and related structures;
  • signage.

B. Environmental and Human Health.

  • noise;
  • shadow flicker (and sometimes turbine glint);
  • land clearing, soil erosion, and habitat impacts;
  • avian mortality;
  • impacts to other rare and endangered species of flora and fauna;
  • adverse visual impacts;
  • wetlands, ground/surface water quality, and stormwater/drainage impacts;
  • electromagnetic field (“EMF”) levels;
  • solid and hazardous waste; and
  • any other human health effects that may be associated with WEFs.

C. Safety.

  • turbine blade and ice throw;
  • fire safety;
  • spill prevention of hazardous materials;
  • emergency response plans;
  • aviation hazards;
  • radio and signal interference; and
  • site security.

D. Construction Impacts.

  • construction vehicle usage;
  • hours of construction and construction-related noise;
  • traffic impacts; and
  • construction road development and use.

E. Socio-Economic Impacts.

  • effects of WEFs on property values; and
  • other local economic impacts of WEFs.

F. Decommissioning.

  • provisions for the removal and restoration of any site when the WEF has discontinued operations.

G. Review Process Matters.

  • site plan reviews and other application filing procedures;
  • fees to review projects and defray the cost of consultants retained to assist a municipality;
  • outreach, community consultations, and notice provisions;
  • the use of mechanisms that may provide added flexibility, such as voluntary agreements between developers and impacted residents.
Jan. 9 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm DPU 13-165 public hearing Bunker Hill CC, Boston
Jan. 13 7:00 pm – 8:00 or last speaker DPU 13-165 public hearing Mt. Wachusett CC, Gardner
Jan. 22 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm DPU 13-165 public hearing Hyannis
Jan. 27 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm DPU 13-165 public hearing Pittsfield
Jan. 29 7:00 pm – 8:00 or last speaker DPU 13-165 public hearing Gloucester
  1. For each of the issue categories (and sub-issues) identified above, what are the best practices the Department should include in its guidance and why? If these recommendations are reflected in existing siting provisions used in municipal, county, state or federal jurisdictions in the United States or internationally, please cite such provisions and comment on the appropriateness of including such provisions in the Department’s guidance.
  2. Should the siting guidance for WEFs differ based on location-specific factors such as population density, geographic classifications (i.e., urban/rural/suburban), and land-use classifications of the host site and nearby uses? Should the guidance differ based on the scale of the WEFs (e.g., MW capacity or height of the turbines) or the number of turbines or total capacity of the installation?
  3. What types of stakeholder involvement and community outreach are most helpful in reviewing WEF proposals at the local level? Cite or provide examples, if any, of municipalities in Massachusetts or elsewhere that employ such practices.
  4. Should the Department recommend to municipalities that they address WEFs through specific zoning/site plan mechanisms? If so, which ones?
  5. To what extent are siting guidance considerations for WEFs a reflection of the existing WEF technology? Are there technological developments for WEFs on the horizon that are likely to influence a determination of what constitutes best practices for siting WEFs?
  6. How should “successful siting” of WEFs be defined? Provide examples of WEF installations in Massachusetts or elsewhere that illustrate “successful siting” practices. What factors made the siting successful? What data or other information are available to document the successful siting outcomes of such projects?
  7. How should “unsuccessful siting” of WEFs be defined? Provide examples of WEF installations in Massachusetts or elsewhere that illustrate “unsuccessful siting” practices. What factors made the siting unsuccessful? What data or other information are available to document the unsuccessful siting outcomes of such projects?
  8. What, if any, provisions should the guidance include to address post-construction monitoring and compliance measures?
  9. Identify any existing regulatory standards, policies, or practices of Massachusetts state agencies that may adversely affect appropriate siting outcomes for WEFs. What, if any, changes should be made to such standards, policies and practices?
  10. Identify any aspects of local, regional, state, and federal regulatory reviews for siting of WEFs in Massachusetts where current siting provisions are in conflict or the actions of permitting entities are at cross purposes. How, if at all, can the guidance help to resolve such conflicts?
  11. Are there issues that should be added to or deleted from the list above?
  12. How can the Department and other state agencies involved in WEF-related policies and programs best encourage the use of the guidance to achieve the intended benefits?

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