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Scituate turbine opponents launch group with national ambitions

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  June 6, 2013 04:56 PM

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Scituate residents have taken a fight against the town's turbine to a national level, with the creation of a group meant to lobby Washington for change.

“Sometimes you have to take a broader approach with something to achieve the same result,” said Tom Thompson, executive director of the National Alliance for Responsible Siting of Alternative Energy Installations.

The group’s creation came in response to the 400-foot turbine off Scituate’s Driftway. Since the machine was turned on in 2011, residents have complained of health problems that they say are associated with noise and shadow flicker from the machine.

Though the town is conducting an acoustical study with the turbine developer, and residents are conducting an independent study on the health impacts, some residents decided to focus on the rules governing turbines.

“As we work through South Shore and Massachusetts issues, we’ll be working on how to bring this forward to D.C., working to arrange meetings with members of Congress and the Senate and come up with some wording to help the legislative process,” Thompson said.

According to Thompson, there are not enough restrictions on where turbines can go, and the state Department of Environmental Protection's noise criteria are not up to date with turbine technology.

The end goal would be to create noise, shadow flicker, and location guidelines, and to ensure that tax credits given are only to alternative energy developers who utilize the enhanced criteria.

“If there were standards imposed on wind turbines to ensure what they were building were appropriately sited… that firm should enjoy the benefit of American-funded tax credits,” Thompson said.

The group is in its infancy, comsisting mainly of Scituate locals. Thompson said the group has also started talking with advocacy groups in Kingston and Fairhaven, as well as those impacted by turbines are far away as Maine and Wisconsin.

Alliance members have also funded an attorney and accountant, and have brought on acoustical engineer Richard James, who is conducting their sound study.

Though the group has a national focus, Thompson said changes would most likely happen at the state level first.

The Alliance hopes to meet with the Department of Environmental Protection sometime in upcoming weeks, and also look into the history of Green Community Designations, which provides financial incentives to towns that go Green, Thompson said.

“None of us got involved in Scituate to change the world,” Thompson said. “We want to protect the health and safety of our neighbors.”

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