The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, February 8, 2008


Wind turbine permit revoked

Keith Therrien wanted to be a pioneer in energy self-sufficiency. He may end up with arrows in his back.

As the Mosquito was about to go to press, we learned that in a letter to be issued on February 6, Acting Building Inspector John Minty rescinded Therrien's permit to build a wind turbine on his property at 78 Berry Corner Lane. The permit was granted in mid-December. At that time it was believed that review by the Planning Board was not necessary because the town's bylaws contain no restrictions on wind turbines and no requirement for abutter notification. Lynne DiCristina of 274 Heald Road, the closest neighbor, was informed when a friend heard a rumor at Town Hall. "It was absolutely random," she says. "I thought, 'This can't possibly be.'"

20Kw Jacobs wind turbine
After the DiCristina's requested a reconsideration, Minty reviewed the decision and determined the permit had been issued in error. The reason for the revocation is Section 3.1 of the town bylaws, which states that no structure shall be erected for any purpose other than one or more of the uses set forth in the bylaw.

According to Therrien, the planned Jacobs 31-20 Turbine was to be a three-blade propeller mounted on a 100- to 120- foot tower (see "It's very, very simple," he says. The turbine would have generated up to 20 kilowatts of energy, more than is needed to heat and power his home, at a cost of $50,000 to $70,000. He arrived at a decision to go with wind power after determining that solar would be just as costly to generate 1/6 as much electricity.

Therrien, who has a masters degree in electrical engineering, is dedicated to becoming energy independent. He notes Massachusetts has the highest electricity costs in the country and the lowest usage of wind power. He had hoped his project would pave the way for wider acceptance of wind turbines, and also hoped to qualify for a grant issued by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, a state agency which promotes electricity generation through wind or solar means.

But neighbors were not convinced. Before learning of Minty's decision, DiChristina said, "I'm very concerned this will have a negative impact on our lives and property values." She also wondered about noise and safety in a storm. Rhonda Sheffield of 338 Heald Road said the tower would be very visible, "I love wind turbines, but I don't want them in a residential back yard."

Therrien planned to locate the turbine on a hill in the midst of his ten-acre lot that he felt would not be visible to neighbors when trees are in leaf. "It's hard for people to understand that a 120-foot item would be hard to pick out." The Jacob is constructed to withstand hurricanes without losing paddles, says Therrien, and the tower would have been anchored in rock and located far from buildings so as not to cause damage even if it were to somehow fall. The noise, according to Therrien, is similar to a refrigerator, "With these small [turbines] ,there's really no noise at all."

Therrien believes Carlisle is a prime location for wind power, and that "with a few turbines in key locations we could generate all the electricity for the town." He points to Hull, which has one very large turbine and is adding four to achieve energy independence. Princeton is building a wind turbine on the back of Mt. Wachusett that will take care of 40% of town needs. "This is not Cape Wind," says Therrien.

Therrien had hoped to work with the Building Inspector and Selectmen on regulations to govern future installations. Current Carlisle bylaws say nothing about wind turbines, and height exceptions are made for "features that usually are carried above the roof line, provided such features are in no way used for human occupancy (bylaws 4.7 Intensity and Dimensional Requirements). Minty's letter disagreed that this applied to a wind turbine, noting in his letter, "I have determined that your 'wind turbine' structure cannot be considered as an 'accessory feature' that is usually 'carried above a roof line.'"

DiChristina said she respected alternative forms of energy, but the proposed turbine would have had an "impact my property values, safety, and the quiet enjoyment of my home." But she does agree on one point, "We need bylaws governing this kind of thing."

2008 The Carlisle Mosquito