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University of Massachusetts

Wind Energy Center

Wind Turbine Siting Issues


Presented at the:

MAPC South Shore Coalition


Renewable Energy Workshop
April 8, 2010

Lynn B. Di Tullio

University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center
University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center

Permitting Wind - Siting Issues


•Visual:
•Aesthetic impact
•Shadow flicker

•Sound
•Ice Shed
•Avian
University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center

Permitting Wind - Siting Impacts


•Visual:
•Aesthetic - provide photo visualizations from key points
•Flicker - have flicker study done, allow for mitigation if
necessary

•Sound - have sound study done from key vantage points (better
models, instruments, and standards are evolving…)

•Ice Shed - usually not an issue, but…


•Avian - desktop and onsite review usually required
University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center

Sources of Technical Assistance:


• Model bylaw for small and large wind energy:
http://www.mass.gov/Eoeea/docs/doer/gca/gc-model-wind-bylaw-mar-10-
2009.pdf

• Steven Clarke, Director of Wind Energy Development,


DOER, 617-626-1049
• University of Massachusetts Wind Energy Center (funded
through MRET-CEC)
•Advice on standards, latest studies: setback, flicker,
icing, noise
• NEWEEP (New England Wind Energy Education Project)
upcoming webinars and conference
• Consultants (funded by CEC if town project)
University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center

Other Resources:
• Siting standards by other states:
www.nationalwind.org/assets/publications/Siting_Factsheets.pdf

• Acoustic Ecology Institute Special Report: Wind


Energy Noise Impacts
www.acousticecology.org/srwind.html

• National Wind Coordinating Collaborative Reports


www.nationalwind.org
University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center

Statewide standards coming:


If Siting Reform bill passes, Energy Facilities
Siting Board to develop statewide wind siting
standards within 6 months, taking into account
noise impacts on residents, safety setbacks,
environmentally sensitive areas, rare species
• Provides a statewide, coherent approach
• Regional planning commissions can develop
their own standards
University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center

Problems that Wind Energy Siting Reform


is intended to address:
• Developers want clear and predictable siting
standards
• MA requires too many permits issued by too
many entities with many opportunities for appeal
• MA has one-stop permitting, but only >100 MW.
= discrimination against renewable facilities
• Other states have much lower thresholds, e.g., VT
(0); CT (1), NH (5) Maine (20 Acres)
University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center

Wind Energy Siting Reform:


• Clear standards - as protective as, but not
necessarily identical to, existing law
• Applies to wind projects 2 MW or larger
• One-stop permitting at local and state level
• Appeal to court, if municipality rejects project
(as currently)
• Appeal to state EFS board, if others object to
municipality’s approval (and then, only one
appeal of EFSB decision - to highest court)
University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center

Wind Energy Siting Reform:


• High wind communities create “wind energy
permitting boards,”: members of planning
board, con-comm, and ZBA
• One-stop board applies all local bylaws, and
can waive provisions
• Muni and Fish & Game reps on EFS board
• Provides some financial benefits to towns
University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center

Predicted Results of Siting Reform:


• Wind facilities sited in appropriate
locations with appropriate safeguards
and mitigation
• Permitting timeline reduced from 5+
years to between 1-1.5 years
• Appeals reduced from 5+ years to 1
year
University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center

Permitting Wind - Regional Experiences


University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center

Permitting Wind Turbines- Medford


• 100 kW turbine on 40m tower, 200 feet from McGlynn School
• Operating since Jan. ‘09: 10% of electricity - $25,000/year
• City of Medford and Medford Clean Energy Committee
• Key: “Understand public outreach-everyone has to play a role” -
major effort, starting with big meeting for public within 500’ of
property edge
• Planning Office and the Mayor took the lead; project “fit”
• No wind bylaw - went through ZBA
• Funding: the easy way!
– A $250,000 grant from the Large Onsite Renewables Initiative of the
Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust (MRET)
– A $200,000 appropriation made through the 2008 MA Energy Bill
– A $100,000 grant from the Mass Energy Consumers Alliance
– Ongoing matching grant funds through the MRET Clean Energy Choice
(aka GreenUp) program.
University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center

Permitting Wind Turbines- Fox Island, Maine


• 4.5 MW project - three GE 1.5 MW turbines
• Operating since Nov. ‘09 - meeting expectations
• Community-owned - Fox Islands Electrical Cooperative serves
Vinalhaven & North Haven ($0.28/kWh over CMP cable)
• Expected to meet total electric power load; cut bills day 1
• Original ordinance designed to be restrictive for outside
developers; made it hard for this project so was changed (!)
• 1,500 feet to nearest residence; some neighbors bothered by
noise
• Sound data being gathered- seems to be in compliance with
45 dBA limit
• Issue and potential mitigation will be submitted for Coop to
decide
University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center
Permitting Wind Turbines- Freedom, Maine
• 4.5 MW project - three GE 1.5 MW turbines
• Operating since Nov. ‘08 - happy with production
• Privately owned (Jay Cashman/Competitive Energy Services)
• “Permitting took years”
– When applied, town asked for time to draft wind ordinance
– After ordinance in place, developer applied
– Project approved, appealed, lost on appeal
– Then town threw out ordinance (!)
– Developer began again
– Project permitted with no wind ordinance in place
• 1,000 feet to nearest residence; neighbors bothered by noise and
flicker (videos on YouTube)
• Now: state model ordinance, “Went from relatively easy to way
too difficult”-
– “Many town ordinances effectively ban wind- small projects can’t be done
geographically/financially
• Example: 1 mile setback, no flicker at intersections
University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center

Vertical Axis Wind Turbines


• Advantages
– Generator at ground level
– Braking options
• Disadvantages
– Less efficient--especially
the Savonius (bucket) type
– Complex vibration modes
– More joints that fail
– Guyed towers
– Lower installed height-less
wind near the ground
University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center

Horizontal Axis Wind Turbines


• Advantages
– More efficient (especially with pitch
control and variable speed
– More economic due to less material
needed per delivered unit of energy.
– Simpler designs--fewer failure
modes.
• Disadvantages
– Installation of rotor-tough!
– Climbing for repairs--tiring!
– Turning into the wind--yaw drives
and gyroscopic forces
– Gravitational loads lead to fatigue
University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center

What Works?
• Vertical vs. Horizontal
– Horizontal is more economical--general result of intense
competition of the 1980s.
– Higher failure rates for vertical axis machines due to
greater complexity
• Roof-mounting vs. Tower mounting:
– Tower is much more effective: results of the recent UK
“Warwick Wind Trials”
– Major problem: turbulence from roofs lower
aerodynamic efficiency, vibration from turbines bothers
occupants, loads from the turbines stress building
structures.
University of Massachusetts
Wind Energy Center

The UK Warwick Wind Trials


(www.warwickwindtrials.org.uk/2.html)

• 23 HAWT roof mounted wind turbines, Oct. 2007


• Wind resource on most urban roof tops is very
small due to surrounding “clutter”
• High-rise buildings in exposed locations may have a
viable wind resource
• Energy production in this study was trivially small
– High turbulence
– Extremely low capacity factor: ~ 4%
• The key issue with roof-mounted wind turbines is usually wind
resource, not technology!
– There is no technology “silver bullet” for a low wind resource