Vote was YES for the moratorium

Posted: May 8, 2014 in Uncategorized

Sheffield residents by a substantial majority, voted to place a moratorium on smart meter/smart grid programs at the annual town meeting on May 5th, based on concern about the controversy surrounding National Grid’s smart meter/smart grid pilot in Worcester and its potential future implementation for the rest of the Utility’s customers as the result of a possible DPU mandate.

 

The warrant asked for a moratorium because of potential violations of the Sheffield By-law 7.1.1 and 7.1.10 which states in the approval criteria for tower citing section, “that such structure will not have an undue adverse impact on historic resources, scenic views, residential property values and natural or man-made resources.” Sheffield residents who are in favor of the moratorium are concerned that the infrastructure being proposed will litter their landscape with antennas and data transmission towers. In response to community opposition over the last 14 months, National Grid is attempting to co-locate transmission units where possible in Worcester, but Sheffield has few cell towers and no structures that could accommodate co-location, raising fears that new structures would be erected. Worcester’s legal counsel made a determination that tower citings did not fall under the Telecommunications Act of 1996; therefore its zoning board is not compelled to approve application for tower erection based only on gaps in coverage. The moratorium would afford the community time to evaluate the Worcester pilot program’s safety, cost effectiveness, security, and energy savings before the program would be expanded into Sheffield.

 

With such overwhelming support from voters, it is assumed that the town Selectmen will approve the moratorium request and that Sheffield will become the first town in Massachusetts to adopt a prudent and precautionary stance that places the burden of proof on the utility to justify the program.  The moratorium merely allows the town to further review conflicting claims about the efficacy of the program and to allow National Grid time to create a no cost Opt Out program to consumers or communities, at which time the town can schedule another vote to continue the moratorium or embrace the technology.

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