Program Policies & Statements
ON WIND ENERGY DEVELOPMENT
Berkshire Natural Resources Council calls for the creation of a statewide siting approach and a consistent permitting process for the development of wind energy in Massachusetts. From Nantucket Sound to Berkshire County there must be a consistent policy regarding wind power facilities that establishes consistent standards for site selection, environmental review, and stewardship.
While recognizing the global imperative to reduce carbon emissions, and the role that wind power generation may play in this goal, Berkshire Natural Resources Council opposes wind energy development that fails to meet high standards for environmental review, production efficiency and long-term economic sustainability.
- Land held for conservation purposes, public or private, should not be considered for wind energy development.
- A statewide siting process, specific to industrial sized (>200’ tall) wind turbines, should be developed, with public input, covering development of wind energy over the next five to ten years. The resulting process should steer projects to areas where wind energy is commercially viable in the long-term and environmental impacts, including fragmentation of roadless areas, are minimized.
- Standard siting criteria should be developed for evaluating site-specific environmental impacts such as roads, ridge clearing, and stream crossings of projects.
- All existing state laws and regulations should be upheld and new regulations should be developed to address the impacts specific to industrial scale wind powered plants.
- All potential sites for Wind Energy development in the Berkshires and throughout the Commonwealth should be subject to MEPA review, the completion of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR), and other studies.
- Pre-construction surveys should be required to document the site’s flora and presence/absence of birds, bats and other fauna. Post-construction monitoring should be required to document bird and bat mortality and other ecological impacts.
- Establish standards for the decommissioning of non-operative facilities (eg. gating roads, planting trees, grass, and shrubs and removing culverts).
- Financial security sufficient to meet the established decommissioning standard should be built into the development costs and set aside to ensure all decommissioning actions will be completed when the facility reaches the end of its useful life.
- Establish statewide standards for identifying non-operative or “mothballed” facilities in order to start decommissioning.
Federal and State Policy of Tax Credits & Renewable Portfolio Standards
An economically stable approach should be used to encourage the development of wind power. BNRC is concerned that “Boom and Bust” development will occur under the current system of Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and Federal Tax Credits. There is potential for ridgeline sites in the Berkshires to be abandoned once tax advantages have been realized and equipment begins to fail.
Position Statement prepared by Narain Schroeder.
Approved by the BNRC Board of Directors April 15, 2005