The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, March 7, 2008

News

Selectmen to form Alternative Energy Committee

A Carlisle resident’s proposal to erect a wind turbine in his back yard may have stalled, but it has energized town officials to plan for alternative energy generation technologies. After initial permitting, Keith Therrien was later told his 120-foot turbine structure would violate town building codes. The Board of Selectmen (BOS) plans to form a committee to review town bylaws regarding height and dimension to see whether an accommodation can be made for alternative energy generation.

Moratorium considered unnecessary

At their March 4 meeting, the BOS considered a one- to two-year moratorium on building wind turbines, in order to give the study committee time before the next wind turbine permit arose. Selectman Doug Stevenson said, “We want to make sure we’re not permitting until we have a set of sensible regulations in place.” However, Town Administrator Madonna McKenzie noted a moratorium might be contested in court, and would not provide the protections sought. Planning Board member Greg Peterson said that his committee “is indifferent on the subject of a moratorium” but “loves planning, and is very much in favor of extensive public review and debate.” He added, “It’s time to get into this and develop a consensus.” He noted the pace of the courts is such that no one is likely to get a ruling against the town before the committee completes its work. “We can probably do without a moratorium and keep pedal to the metal on preparing for Town Meeting next year.”

The Selectmen put aside the idea of a moratorium, and instead opted to appoint a committee next week to begin the process of looking at bylaws. Williams, Peterson, Therrien, and Town Administrative Coordinator Elizabeth Barnett, who has done extensive research on emerging state laws, will help define a charter for the committee. Therrien noted the state’s Joint Committee Energy Bill should be closely followed, as it looks to have some 40B-like penalties for towns that do not actively pursue energy alternatives.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Mike Hanauer of Carlisle Climate Action noted his private, ad-hoc organization “very much wants to encourage a process to promote alternative energy.” He added, “We want Carlisle to be in the forefront” for solar and wind energy generation, but “don’t want to get in the way of due process or open hearings.”

Therrian pointed to the crowd on hand and noted he was gratified that the failure of his turbine project had gotten people involved. “The result is what’s here. I’m very happy about that.” He observed that 30% of new U.S. electric generating capacity was wind in 2007, and 19,000 wind turbines are installed in Germany alone. He had tested several sites for wind in Carlisle and found two he labeled “very good” adding, “It’s a fallacy that Carlisle doesn’t have wind.”

Nancy Weiss, the Carlisle liaison to Minuteman School, noted the importance of green energy to the coursework there and observed that the school is considering a major in wind technology. ∆


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