Martha’s Vineyard Commission seeks wind energy plan comments

Martha’s Vineyard Commission seeks wind energy plan comments

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The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) released a draft Wind Energy Plan for Dukes County this week with a goal to gather public comment over the next few months.

The comprehensive 150-page draft plan is a collaborative effort of a Dukes County wind energy work group facilitated by the MVC. It is available on the MVC website at www.mvcommission.org, with a search for “wind energy plan.”

The MVC staff prepared the draft based on the work group’s analysis and recommendations, according to a press release emailed from MVC executive director Mark London.

“We wanted to get the draft plan out in the summer so seasonal residents are aware of it and have the opportunity to comment,” he said in a phone conversation yesterday. “We will also keep the public comment period open at least through September, when year-round residents have time to start getting back to these kinds of issues.”

The plan provides an overview of the planning and regulatory context, descriptions of general, land, and ocean resources; the impact of wind energy projects on people and property; operational considerations; and economic impacts.

The plan also describes wind energy project development and the regulatory process, and includes recommendations for model regulations for the Island Wind District of Critical Planning Concern. It also includes proposed modifications to the MVC’s development of regional impact checklist and a proposed definition of appropriate scale for offshore wind energy facilities.

The draft Wind Energy Plan specifically seeks public comment on two possible options for offshore wind energy development in the waters of Dukes County.

In option one, the waters of Dukes County are categorized into “exclusionary areas” where turbines would be prohibited, and as “areas of special concern,” where turbines might be considered based on several criteria that take into account nearby environmental, cultural, and economic resources.

Option two would not permit any wind energy development in Dukes County waters for the plan’s five- to seven-year duration. Since state and federal officials are focused on waters more than 12 nautical miles offshore, the second option proposes to bypass state waters during that time to allow for more research and data collection, without significantly impacting the goals of renewable energy development.

Comments may be submitted by email to MVC senior planner Bill Veno at veno@mvcommission.org or by mail to the MVC at P.O. Box 1447, Oak Bluffs MA 02557.

Mr. London said a power-point presentation about the wind energy plan would be presented at the MVC’s August 4 meeting.

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