A proposed Wind Energy Plan for Dukes County was released for public comment yesterday by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission.

The document includes two fundamental options regarding possible offshore wind energy development. One would allow development in certain areas defined by the analysis; the other would hold off on short-term development within the waters of Dukes County.

The draft plan analyzes aspects of wind energy development on land and offshore, in both state waters within the county and in adjacent federal waters. It proposes policies for where and at what scale wind turbines be allowed, where they should be subject to special review, and what standards should apply.

Currently there is no requirement specifically for wind turbines to be referred to the commission, although any development in the ocean is automatically referred to the MVC as a development of regional impact [DRI].

The draft plan recommends that any wind energy facility developments should be referred to the commission if they are higher than 150 feet, or located in the ocean.

Others should be referred when the towns and MVC agree to do so, including facilities located in land areas of special concern; those located less than six times the turbine height from a municipal boundary; or any turbine normally subject to special permit review where the town is not authorized to carry out such a review.

The draft tries to refine the state definition of “appropriate scale,” adding, among other things, scenic values and cumulative impact as factors.

According to the MVC, the plan aims to allow for reasonable wind energy development while minimizing potentially detrimental impacts on natural resources and human uses.

The draft plan looks at a wide variety of topics, including birds and bats, scenic resources and visual impacts, tribal and other cultural resources, open space and habitat, marine mammals, fishing, navigation and boating, safety, noise and vibration, shadow flicker, electromagnetic interference, construction, operation and maintenance, decommissioning, impacts on business and employment, property values and municipal taxes, and community benefits.

The draft is being released to solicit public comment over the summer. The idea is to convene a small group in the fall to submit a final draft to the full commission for adoption. The commission itself has not reviewed this draft.

A copy of the Wind Energy Plan can be downloaded from the Island Plan Web site, islandplan.org, or you can ask for a copy at 508-693-3453. A public meeting about the draft plan will be scheduled later in the summer.