Savoy wind turbine project concedes defeat
SAVOY — The town that said yes to wind power, then no, can now say goodbye to Minuteman Wind.
The developer said Monday it will not go to court to fight the town's decision to deny it a building permit.
"With the passing of today's deadline without the filing of a Notice of Appeal, Minuteman regrettably acknowledges the end of the Savoy Project," Larry Plitch, a Minuteman principal, said in a statement on behalf of the company.
Minuteman had been working for more than a decade to place five turbines on West Hill in Savoy in a venture originally valued at $30 million.
Monday was the end of a 20-day period Minuteman had under state law to challenge a decision filed July 31 by the town's Zoning Board of Appeals. That board upheld a building inspector's April decision to deny Minuteman a building permit.
In declining to grant that permit, the inspector and members of the ZBA faulted Minuteman for stepping down the generating capacity of the turbines without first seeking approval from the town, among other things.
"In the end, despite believing in our legal right to build a smaller project consistent with our original Special Permit, the simple truth is that, after over a decade of development efforts, we simply no longer had the resources to continue the struggle," the company said.
The turbines would have been placed on forested land owned by Harold "Butch" Malloy.
While town residents backed what was to have been a 12.5-megawatt project in January 2008, town sentiments changed over the many years it took Minuteman to clear environmental approvals with the state and to obtain financing.
In December, residents voided the town's wind power bylaw. That left Minuteman as the only approved project, with months ticking down on its special permit, which had already been renewed twice.
Minuteman's statement expressed appreciation for those who backed the project over the years: "We wish to sincerely thank the Malloy Family and those many Savoy citizens who have supported us throughout and believed in the benefits of the Project for the Town and the Planet."
John Tynan, chairman for the Select Board and the ZBA, said he had not been officially notified of the company's decision, but said he was aware that the appeal period ended Monday.
"The resources always seemed to be their problem," he said of Minuteman. "They were struggling and jumping around."
The company's decision not to challenge the ZBA in court means Savoy will not have to pay to muster a defense.
For most of 2017, the company relied on a new outside partner, Palmer Capital Corp., to move the project forward. Palmer decided to step away early this year, with an executive saying they could not make the numbers work financially after failing to win an increase in the turbine height.
That left Minuteman rushing to salvage the venture. An official told the ZBA in July it had tentative financing, but that was dependent on securing the building permit.
Tynan said he hopes supporters of the project will be able to come to terms with Minuteman's demise.
"We can just move forward and try [as a town] to come back together again," he said.
Larry Parnass can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @larryparnass on Twitter and 413-496-6214.
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