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Benefits, Concerns Discussed at Wind Turbine Hearing

Opponents say turbine would be noisy, disrupt recreation and cause health problems.

Attendees at the first public hearing on a proposed 1.5 million kilowatt wind turbine on expressed both support for and concern about the potential impact of such a project.

While most attendees agreed wind power is advantageous, many in the standing-room-only crowd expressed concern that putting a large wind turbine on the southern tip of Winter Island might not be such a good idea.

Mayor Kimberley Driscoll, Energy and Sustainability Manager Paul Marquis and the city's Renewable Energy Task Force presented a plan to build a $4 million wind turbine on .

According to the presentation, the proposed turbine would generate enough electricity to power 300 to 500 homes. It would pay for itself in about eight years and then save the city $586,000 a year in electricity costs. The proposal suggested the wind turbine might be built by fall of 2012.

“This is not a done deal,” Driscoll assured several opponents. “This is the beginning of the process.” The mayor expressed support for the project, calling it “progressive” and part of the City's commitment to being a green community.

Several opponents to the Winter Island location, including Councilors-at-Large Joan Lovely and Steven Pinto said they felt the city was moving too fast.

Calling Winter Island “our jewel,” Lovely said she is concerned that “little” Winter Island is not large enough to support a turbine. “I don't want to rush through this,” she said.

Pinto agreed. “It seems we are in a rush. We need to slow down, take a couple of steps back,” he said. The councilor, who lives in the nearby Willows neighborhood, said: “We have a long way to go.”

The mayor said the wind turbine project has been under consideration for years.

“I don't feel we are rushing at all,” she added.

Driscoll assured the crowd that the wind turbine would have to be approved by several committees and boards and ultimately by the City Council and the Mayor's office.

A $400,000 Mass Clean Energy Center (CEC) grant and a $700,000 grant from the Mass Energy Consumers' Alliance (MECA) are being pursued to fund the project.

The members of the Renewable Energy Task Force, who attended the hearing, said the wind turbine project has been studied for years.

“I have seen the ability for people to live with wind power,” said Jeff Barz-Snell, a member of the Task Force.

The three-hour hearing focused mostly on how noisy a 382-foot wind turbine would be. Some said they have stood directly under a similar one in Hull and heard nothing. Others agreed with Ed Moriarty that the city should not approve a windmill that is “so tall, so wide and so loud.”

Kevin Harvey, an opponent, argued that in Falmouth, the wind turbine there was so loud, it must be shut down when the wind exceeds 25 miles per hour.

Malcolm Brown, a former Hull city light commissioner, said the Falmouth wind turbine is much older technology and a different type of turbine than the ones in Hull or the one proposed for Salem. The Falmouth turbine is very loud, while the Hull turbines are so popular that a third one is under consideration, he said.

Opponents also questioned the potential health affects the wind turbine might cause. Robert Levin said the pulse of the wind turbines upsets the rhythms of the human body.

Barz-Snell said there is no proven scientific evidence that turbines cause any health problems.

Task Force member Jenna Ide said the wind turbine would help replace some of the energy generated by fossil power plants, which do create pollution that causes health problems.

Other opponents said a wind turbine would hurt the redevelopment of Winter Island. But the mayor said funds from the wind turbine are needed to restore the old hanger and barracks that are in danger of collapsing.

About a quarter of the crowd came from Marblehead. They seemed to be evenly split in favor of and against the turbine. Opponents said they feared the noise would have an even greater impact on Naugus Head residents than Salem residents.

“This is the first time we have had so many Marblehead residents in one room in Salem,” Driscoll said, welcoming the neighbors from across the harbor.

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john August 04, 2011 at 07:47 PM
Unless you want to put your life in danger ,I would stay away from the transfer station. Chester is in favor of the proposal but refuses to acknowledge the fact that the building is a very dangerous operation. If you want to back it, do so, but in the mean time it needs to be closed. If someone gets hurt there Northside and the City will be in court for years. This is no way to run a City. People dumping trash are instructed to back up to a building that is falling down. That's crazy. If Northside runs it that way now, then what can we expect in the future???
mark cool August 04, 2011 at 08:27 PM
As for the age of the Falmouth (Wind 1).. it is 8 years old. The Vestas representative at the Selectmen meeting June 6th said it was their (Vestas) "workhorse" turbine (V82). As for sitting underneath one... that's a common ploy used in the marketing of these behemoths. The level of noise directly below (where there are no houses, where no one is trying to sleep) is, in fact quiet. The rotor, due to it's evaluation, project sound waves in a 360 degree pattern. Much like an omni-directional beacon for instance. The effect (noise & pressure complaints) are readily heard and felt at distances of 3 to 4 rotor diameters from the turbine site. People from my neighborhood, during the 'sales pitch' of the Falmouth turbine, took the tour to the Hull turbine to experience it for themselves. The Energy Committee guide brought them directly below the turbine and said " see how quiet!". Don't be duped by this marketing ploy.
mark cool August 04, 2011 at 08:39 PM
Good idea Erik. The wind industry has manufactured turbines sizes to fit the environment. A generic category the industry uses, based on power output, are "community" scale. Greed has gripped developers (municipalities) because they think bigger is better. However, the focus is purely on profit and public general welfare becomes a secondary concern. So the question becomes: do the neighbors around winter isl. become collateral damage for the greater good. In otherwords.. if it means Salem saving money at the expense of a few neighbors, is it worth replacing democracy with communism?
chester suchecki August 04, 2011 at 11:14 PM
read what i said again. THE EXISTING BUILDING IS GOING TO BE TORN DOWN WITH THE SMOKE STACK. is that too hard for you to understand?
KlassySalem August 04, 2011 at 11:42 PM
Aubry, I propose a Salem Patch online reality show entitled Salem Patch Odd Couple. In the show, Chester and John live together, and whoever survives is declared king of the patch and wins a prize, like maybe a spot on the Patch blog, or a beer with Baldbil. I know you can't admit it, but you're welcome for the laugh.
chester suchecki August 05, 2011 at 12:26 AM
i would prefer a firing squad
bobo August 05, 2011 at 02:33 AM
Chester, Why would you want 2 million tons of garbage coming to salem every year? Wouldn't that site be better served for something else?
bobo August 05, 2011 at 02:36 AM
Still wondering why SAFE isn't opposed to a dump in salem? The pollution itself from the trucks driving up and down salem streets should outrage them. Or Tearing down 15 acres of green space in salem? Can we at least get a comment from them? For or against??
john August 05, 2011 at 07:29 AM
Read what i said YOU WONT HAVE TO TEAR IT DOWN WHEN IT CAVES IN AND KILLS THE PEOPLE WORKING THERE. Why cant you admit is is unsafe .Have you been there? Are you a relative? As for the firing squad just hang around the transfer station and have bricks fired at you,Felix
windpower August 05, 2011 at 11:37 AM
Facebook poll . These types of polls are poor at best, and can really misinform people . Heck I could take a poll that would make Whitey Boulger look good . A poll of neighbors that, could be ,effected by the wind turbine would be more in line .Even this would bias the info against the turbine .
windpower August 05, 2011 at 12:07 PM
Take a look at bst.sagepub.com go to current read the several articles about wind turbine noise . then go back to the poll and vote .
Jaffy August 06, 2011 at 04:13 PM
How about MISERY ISLAND (s)? Misery loves company.
chester suchecki August 06, 2011 at 05:42 PM
use the 400 ft. smoke stack when the power plant leaves
Scott Hayward August 07, 2011 at 02:34 AM
Hi Don, You use some strong words to condemn those who live in the willows or winter island. To correct your understanding I did read the feasibility study prior to the meeting and I am educated in design and construction and work professionaly to "Green" the Commonwealth. As far as minoiy are you speaking o the ultitude of communites that live with turines and oppose them??? Becasue they exist throughout the US and Europe. Above all can you speak to your credentials to illustrate your abiltiy to judge and discredit people who are suffering from health or property vestment loss due to turbine locations?? I look forward to hearing from you. By te way, how close to a turbine do you live? And do you know anyone who is suffering from noise polluton?
Scott Hayward August 07, 2011 at 02:37 AM
Here here...
Scott Hayward August 07, 2011 at 02:42 AM
Jopsi, I'm not sure anyone from the willows or wi rd. is opposing the wi location is against wind power and renewable energy, the issue is placing a turbine adjacent to a residential neighborhood; And the documented health issues that exist due to low frequency noise (the stuff you can't hear) but still exists - just like the non-visible light spectrum.
Scott Hayward August 07, 2011 at 03:35 AM
Antoine, I have experienced that myself as well but later found that some of the nay sayers I had thought to be luddites turned out to be well educated and informed stewards with a valid argurment. Perhaps you should ask your opponents credentials and review there position prior to judging them. By the way how close to a turbine do you live??...
Scott Hayward August 07, 2011 at 03:40 AM
Hello Mark, good point, and to furher your comment, how exactly do you place a dollar value on the health or risk of ill health for the residents of salem willows and winter island??? Renewable energy is most important but to create it at the expense of the health of those residing next to it (It being a power plant - that is a wind turbine is a power plant that does produce noise pollution) is the true queston...
windpower August 07, 2011 at 01:10 PM
From the city's study the following words that raise concern . "probably not exceed","may be audible at some of nearest homes" ."noise not " considered "intrusive"Camping sites, boat access, buildings, located on property proper notification should be limited or RESTRICTED . OR Prohibit Access. They way I see it you can kiss a lot of winter island away ,the rest will be ruined by the noise .
chester suchecki August 07, 2011 at 01:51 PM
it seems like this cities creedo as of lately. we have a good thing and the city ruins it. just look at what they did at the willows parking lot.
Maggi Smith-Dalton August 07, 2011 at 02:54 PM
Leave the blowhards out of the discussion and let's not blast this positive step to smithereens, while making sure we don't throw all caution to the winds.
windpower August 07, 2011 at 03:59 PM
Please define blowhards . Are you suggesting free speech be eliminated also ?
Erin Cyr August 08, 2011 at 12:36 PM
Cats kill more than a thousand times more birds than do wind turbines. Just thought I'd put that out there...
windpower August 08, 2011 at 02:05 PM
And cars kill more game than hunters !
KlassySalem August 08, 2011 at 03:19 PM
I'm convinced! Let's ban cats! My allergies thank you.
KlassySalem August 08, 2011 at 03:33 PM
Now you go too far! I like my car.
chester suchecki August 08, 2011 at 04:14 PM
the city of salem has robbed the residents of the profits from winter island long enough. the wind turbine project will take 6-8 years to see a profit and the wind turbine will be old technology by then. the yearly profits from winter island in 6-8 years can do alot more for the place than a wind turbine.
mark cool August 08, 2011 at 06:02 PM
Don - The resolution for the protection of the citizenry exists throughout Massachusetts town charters and is further augmented, no doubt, by town by-law and ordinances. The framework of setting Falmouth solution priorities should be driven by a state and local mandate of public protection. Our Selectmen’s chairperson states“We need to be careful and cautious about what we do because we made a strong commitment to build these turbines over a period of five or six years.” The catalysis for Falmouth’s developed wind energy program was lowering taxes, increasing sustainability of the community, and committing to becoming a more environmentally friendly community. These initial goals easily assimilate into the mandate of public protection. The number one problem requiring vital focus assessing Falmouth solution(s) and Salem wind turbine project adoption, is the compromised health and well being of residents living in close proximity (or that would live in close proximity) to industrial sized turbines. The initial goals (lowering taxes, increasing sustainability of the community, and committing to becoming a more environmentally friendly community - same as Salem) and their outcomes are now in Falmouth, and should be in Salem, inconsequential. The mandate of public protection remains the number one priority.
mark cool August 08, 2011 at 06:04 PM
Revenue and budget outcome, as components to community goals, SHOULD BE articulated to Salem Councilmen to be ancillary to the prime objective of public protection. Though probably not intended by any Falmouth Selectmen or town meeting member of past, and indicative only in that a feasibility study conclusion could be in error, the health and well being of a neighborhood in Falmouth or Salem, cannot be marginalized by any amount of dollars and cents as you imply.
Royamtceje August 15, 2011 at 09:02 PM
Wind power kind of blows. See wall street journal buzz kill. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703792704575366700528078676.html

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