Wampanoag wind study public hearing

The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) will hold a public hearing Friday to review the results of a wind turbine feasibility study. The hearing is scheduled from 5 to 6 pm at the tribe administration building in Aquinnah, and the Island community is invited.

The tribe collected wind data over the course of a year at the old LORAN Station site on tribal trust lands in Aquinnah, according to a press release. The draft report that will be discussed at the hearing details the technical feasibility of erecting up to two turbines on Wampanoag lands.

Copies of the report will be available for review, and a short PowerPoint presentation will highlight the chief issues identified, tribal planner Durwood Vanderhoop said in a press statement this week.

In 2006, the tribe received a $50,000 grant from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC), and a grant worth $82,000 from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, to conduct a feasibility study on site locations.

The meteorolical tower (MET) was erected in 2008 to support scientific equipment designed to track weather information to determine if the site located on tribal land is suitable for electricity-producing wind turbines.

According to the tribe’s project grant application, “The wind feasibility study will analyze and evaluate the site, wind resources, permitting issues, visual and community impact, and the project economics. It is envisioned that wind turbine(s) ranging from 850 kW (kilowatts) to 2.1 MW (megawatts) in size would be well suited to the site and the total project size may range from 1.7 to 6 MW.”

At the same time that the tribe has been exploring land-based wind power, it has objected to the Cape Wind project on Horseshoe Shoals in Nantucket Sound. Members of the Mashpee and Aquinnah Wampanoag tribes claim that the wind farm would interfere with their view of the rising sun, an important element in tribal ceremonies, they say. And the wind farm will be built on a shoal that was dry land thousands of years ago and remains a sacred burial and cultural site.