PERU -- As a developer continues pushing to build a commercial wind operation, residents tonight will have a chance to debate a new effort to amend the town's wind energy zoning bylaw.
Unlike last November's failed attempt to restrict wind projects, the current proposal will target only industrial-size turbines and will encourage small-scale wind energy conversion systems among individual property owners.
"Wind energy conversion systems shall be primarily for on-site distributional use; up to 50 percent of the energy generated may be sold or used off-site," the amendment reads.
The previous measure fell short, despite receiving majority support, in part because some residents felt the measure would have prevented all wind energy in the town, even residential systems, according to members of Peru Concerned Citizens.
Proponents feel they've struck the right balance to get the two-thirds vote necessary.
"This bylaw allows for generation of local electricity and the sale or use of excess," the group's explanation of the bylaw reads. "Many communities are refocusing their wind bylaws to support these systems, where the electricity is used primarily on-site, rather than as a power plant with electricity primarily sold to the grid."
PCC members have petitioned the town to put the item up for a vote at this year's Annual Town Meeting. The Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a public hearing to discuss the measure at 6:30 tonight at Town Hall.
Developer Lightship Energy is proposing to erect five, 500-foot wind turbines between Garnet and Haskell Hills off Curtin Road -- plans that will go before residents and the Zoning Board of Appeals during a series of upcoming public hearings.
Proponents of the project point to the nationwide need for clean, renewable energy and the potential tax revenue it could bring the town. Opponents believe noise and vibrations caused by the company's turbines could cause ill health effects for some living near the structures -- like vertigo, sleeping problems and nausea.
A state report conducted in 2012 on the health impacts of living near wind turbines found no conclusive evidence of such claims.
The hearings on Lightship's proposal have been delayed a number of times already, as the developer reportedly sought to amend details to pacify residents' concerns about the project.
Most recently, a hearing on Lightship's proposal scheduled for April 23 was recently postponed until May 21.
However, ZBA Chairman Jay Jewell wrote in the postponement notice, "The board has informed the applicant Lightship Energy that no further grants of time shall be extended and that all amended plans, specifications, studies or reports and answers to citizens inquiries in support of their application should be submitted forthwith."
Lightship also is required to float balloons at the proposed project site at roughly the height the wind turbines would stand, for a duration of several weeks before the public hearings begin. Residents can expect to see these soon.
To reach Phil Demers:
or (413) 281-2859.
On Twitter: @BE_PhilD