Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
The following letter was sent to Sen. Robert O’Leary and Rep. Timothy Madden:
I appreciate the opportunity to meet with both of you over the past few weeks to discuss the draft oceans plan. As we discussed, through this planning process, the commonwealth is setting the pace for marine spatial planning at a national level.
I write to follow up on our discussions about renewable energy development provisions of the plan. In this letter I provide you with my understanding of the points where we have reached a common view and review the commitments I am making to you in terms of the provisions I will include in the final plan.
Commercial wind and regional planning agencies: The final oceans plan will state that regional planning authorities with regulatory authority shall define the appropriate scale of any renewable energy project located within waters of those municipalities that are presently subject to the jurisdiction of such regional planning authorities.
Community wind and regional planning agencies: In addition, the final oceans plan will state that within the multi-use area, in which community wind projects are allowed under the current oceans plan draft, regional planning agencies with regulatory authority shall define the appropriate scale of any renewable energy project located within waters of those municipalities that are presently subject to the jurisdiction of such regional planning authorities.
Municipal role in mitigation: Per our discussion, the final oceans plan will include a requirement that at least 50 per cent of mitigation funds — for projects in state waters that are subject to the plan — will flow through municipal control. This provision recognizes that certain forms of mitigation — for example for marine habitat protection — are not best handled by municipalities given state and federal agency expertise. Nonetheless, we recognize the core role of municipalities in handling land-based mitigation and other potential burdens on municipal services.
Thank you again for your thoughtful engagement on these important matters.
Ian A. Bowles
Boston and Woods Hole
Oblivious to Concerns
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
My reaction to the Nov. 10 letter of Secretary Bowles to Senator O’Leary and Representative Madden:
• In the first paragraph dealing with commercial wind projects, the secretary allows the MVC to “define the appropriate scale of any renewable energy” within its jurisdiction. It looks as if the MVC has been thrown the bone of weighing in on “scale” while being denied the ability to determine if the project was properly sited in the first place.
Further, appeals from “appropriate scale” decisions would still be to the politically appointed siting board rather than to a court.
We want final decisions to be made by the MVC with appeals to the court, not the siting board and we want the deadline for the plan extended so that it could be modified to take into consideration information and interaction pertaining to the Vineyard.
The first paragraph does not adequately address our concerns regarding MVC jurisdiction and appeals from there and ignores our concern about the rapidly looming deadline.
• The second paragraph dealing with community wind projects mirrors the first paragraph; ditto the comments.
• The third paragraph refers to a “municipal role in mitigation.”
I will confess that I was confused by the language, but as near as I could tell, it was an offer to share money with municipalities. Is Dukes County a municipality? The towns therein?
More importantly, we shouldn’t be talking about mitigating harm caused by the state plan; we should be talking about how to avoid state-inflicted damage.
We have been told by state officials that they have no intention of cramming a project down the throats of the locals. Why do we still feel that this proposal is being crammed down our unwilling throats?
State planners have conceded the temporary nature of the proposed commercial wind farm until such activities can be moved to federal waters where the winds are stronger and moreconsistent and where vistas and economies are not affected.
Our struggle is to avoid becoming a sacrifice to the felt need to rush the wrong project into the wrong place for the wrong reasons.
Secretary Bowles’s letter to our representatives appears to be oblivious to our concerns and in no way answers them.
The writer is director of the group Let Vineyarders Decide.