Lawyers for wind developer want Hopkinton to increase turbine height to 600 feet
By MATT LINDSEY
HOPKINTON -- Lawyers from a wind farm company have requested that Hopkinton town officials allow the turbine tip height to increase another 100 feet to 600 feet.
Robert A. Panasci, a lawyer for Avangrid, emailed town officials asking to discuss changing the allowable height of wind towers to increase from 500 to 600 feet in height at the highest point of the blade.“In the interest of full disclosure, to accommodate the evolving technology expected to be in the market in the next few years, and guard against the phase-out of wind turbine models, we respectfully request the maximum allowable turbine tip height be increased to 600 feet,” Panasci said in the email.
The local law currently limits the blade tip height of turbines to 500 feet.
“Since we only received the letter two days before the scheduled meeting, there hasn't been a chance to discuss their proposed 600-foot height,” Hopkinton Town Supervisor Sue Wood said. “However, I can't imagine that there would be support.”
“We understand this is a new factor to consider but we want to be open with the Board and not suggest this change at a later date. Avangrid would be prepared to discuss the turbine tip height at the meeting with Ms. Lyons, Mr. Parker and the Wind Advisory Board,” Panasci said.
Even without the change in turbine height, Avangrid faces wind law obstacles that they say impede the project from moving forward.
Avangrid said it remains committed to working with the town, provided the Wind Advisory Board recommendations are not adopted without being amended first, but the town adopted the WAB’s recommendations at a meeting April 26. Avangrid had advised the board that they will not construct the North Wind Ridge Project with the WAB changes.
“If the Wind Advisory Board’s recommendations are adopted without the changes suggested by Avangrid, the town will have sent a clear message that new investments in wind energy are not welcome and we will pivot to other communities that welcome new investment,” the email says.
Officials from Avangrid agreed with council member Sue Lyon’s suggestion to continue meetings between wind company officials, lawyers and council members.
“Ms. Lyons did not commit to making any changes to the Local Law, she simply suggested that an open dialogue would be helpful to better understand the potential issues given Avangrid’s commitment to investing millions of dollars in the town,” Panasci’s email said.
“Avangrid has never suggested that every recommendation of the Wind Advisory Board should be rejected by the board. There are several provisions that are acceptable to Avangrid,” he said.
However, the provisions that Avangrid says will prevent the construction of any wind project are arguably the main three objectives in the law: a setback requirement of five times the total height of a turbine at the blade tip from non-participating property lines, public roads, wind overlay boundary, non-WECS building, farm or commercial structure or any above-ground utilities, registered historical site and APA boundary; sound standards of 40 dBa taken at ten minute intervals at the nearest non-participating property line, school, hospital, place of worship or building existing at the time of the application; and no turbines to be built on land south of State Highway 72.
Avangrid plans to build 27 turbines in Hopkinton and says it would bring about $30 million to the town.