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The access roads have been built but have not been used because the purchase agreement between NStar and Iberdrola Renewables needs to be approved by the state.

Florida In Waiting Game For Hoosac Wind Project

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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FLORIDA, Mass. — The permits are in place, the roads are built but the top of Bakke Mountain is not the hotbed of activity many expected.

Iberdrola Renewables is planning to build 20 wind turbines, producing 30 megawatts of energy, on Bakke Mountain in Florida and on Crum Hill in Monroe. After nearly 10 years in the making, the Hoosac Wind Project finally received all of its permits last year with a goal to complete the project by the end of this year.

But then the energy-purchase agreement expired. According to Paul Copleman, communications manager for Iberdrola Renewables, a new agreement between Iberdrola and NStar had been written but the company now has to wait for the state Department of Environmental Protection to approve it before major construction begins.

"We've pushed the start of major construction until next year," Copleman said on Tuesday. "We began some of the preliminary site work."

The new agreement is expected to be approved soon and Iberdrola hopes to begin construction next spring with a goal of finishing it in by the end of next year.

Access roads and some site preparation was completed last year but since then, no work has occurred at the peaks, according to Town Administrator Christine Dobbert.

"There has been nothing done on it this year," Dobbert said on Thursday.

The project has a storied history as it weaved through the judicial system. The town of Florida has been supporting the project since 2003 but local abuttors and an environmentalist group have been fighting wetlands permits granted by the state in 2005. The dispute finally came to an end last year.

The town has twice extended special permits as the project progressed and last year all of the permits were finally put into place. Since the major construction was postponed again, the company will have to renew its permits with the town's Conservation Commission when the current ones expire in October, according to Dobbert.

Dobbert said the town is confident that the project will continue and the extra delay is not a cause of frustration.

"It's been 10 years, what's another eight months?" she said. "It's going to happen."

Copleman, however, is itching to get the project going. 

"It's been a long haul to get this far," Copleman said. "We are looking forward to building this project."
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MassWildlife Asks Public Not to Feed 'GE Deer'

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — If you have ever driven down New York Avenue and seen the deer grazing behind the fencing that encases General Electric's property, it is likely that you have been inclined to feed them.

Though this action is rooted in kindness, it is not healthy for the woodland friends and could be fatal, which is why MassWildlife has put up signs asking that residents do not throw food over the fences.

"Obviously, people see the deer in there and they probably think 'what are they going to eat? They're limited in there they're stuck in there.'  I will say, they're definitely not stuck in there," MassWildlife's wildlife biologist Nathan Buckhout said.

For decades, the deer have found an unlikely sanctuary in the former GE site that includes two landfills, Hill 78 and Building 71. Buckhout explained that they have been there for decades, spawning offspring and becoming completely self-sufficient within the fenced area.

"They're doing just fine," he said. "And they obviously are getting enough food and water, otherwise their population would be limited, they wouldn't be able to produce their offspring so there would be fewer fawns, and eventually they probably would have disappeared — but they haven't."

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