Massachusetts is planning to have a wind turbine ordinance. The region does not have strong currents of air as coastal region. Regulations usually address permissible height and location of a wind turbine, setbacks, noise levels and other issues. The height restriction is a major obstacle because the higher the turbine is, the more powerful wind it gets. Gloucester has one, and so does Chester. Lunenburg adopted its wind-turbine ordinances in May 2008.
We wanted to have zoning bylaws in place so that we could both encourage (the installations of wind turbines) and manage their overall benefit for the community, John Giger of Groton, said.
The word ‘green’ is very, very much on people’s minds, said Lunenburg Planning Director Marion Benson.
Federal and state incentives are also making wind energy more accessible for homeowners, Aerostar Inc.’s President of a Westport Point Paul Gay said.
Taller and bigger equipment produces more energy, but is costly also. Hence, the Groton Planning Board wanted no height limit to let developers figure out feasibility, including the money they may have to spend to make large structures suitable for the neighborhood. As per the proposal, turbines exceeding 65 feet in blade-tip height require a special permit. Gloucester’s ordinance requires a special permit for turbines exceeding 150 feet in blade-tip height. A model bylaw developed by the state Department of Energy Resources (DOER) sets the limit at 400 feet while requiring a special permit for devices designed to generate over 60 kilowatts.
Gloucester has mandated a setback equal to turbine height and 100 feet from property lines. After many discussions at public hearings, the Groton Planning Board revised the requirement for setback from 1.5 times the turbine height to one time plus 25 feet from property line.
But the most common cause of neighborhood conflict seems to be an appearance of wind turbine, Giger said.
DOER Wind Development Director Steven Clark said that the state created the model bylaw to set a standard for criteria. Proposals for commercial wind-energy projects often prompt planners to develop guidelines, he said. Thrust for new regulations can also come from town officials who want residents or the local governments to start generating energy on their own.