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Panel: Wind turbines need study  

www.postcrescent.com

Several Town of Menasha residents voice concerns

By Michael King
Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers

TOWN OF MEN-ASHA – A plan to place 36 wind turbines as a highly visible renewable energy demonstration project near U.S. 41 will be studied further.

The Town Board unanimously referred the conditional use permit back to the Planning Commission for further review Monday.

It sent the measure back after several residents expressed concerns about safety, aesthetics, possible odors and harm to birds at the former steel company crane bay at 2225 Northern Road.

Even if those issues are legitimate, the town may have limited ability to restrict the project since the land is zoned heavy industrial. The applicant only needs the conditional use permit because the energy produced by the turbines might be sold.

The proposal calls for 36 small turbines with 8-foot-diameter plastic blades mounted on top of 4-inch steel pipes 120 feet high strapped together by steel cable around the perimeter of the former crane bay.

“It’s a safety concern,” said Bob Goldman, a resident and board president for the nearby 10-story Park Condominium.

Mick Sagrillo, a renewable energy consultant, said smaller turbines may be more acceptable since it “just doesn’t have the visual perspective that a gonzo turbine would have.”

While Sagrillo said many issues raised against wind turbine projects lack merit, he did suggest the town add an abandonment clause. “Eyesore is a legitimate concern even though it’s something you can’t regulate,” he said.

Sagrillo said complaints that wind turbines cause harm to birds is “a major ruse” and he called issues like stray voltage “scare tactics by folks trying to stop large wind projects.””We don’t have any issues,” said Tom Newton, Manitowoc, co-applicant with Kelly Rousseau of Hortonville as Soul Purpose Ministry Inc., a nonprofit Christian ministry. “It’s just complainants who don’t like wind energy or don’t like somebody in their backyard.”

Newton said that since the upper band of steel cable would be 115 feet above the ground, “there’s only 5 feet of pipe that can possibly leave that unit.”

While missionaries will be brought in and trained to maintain the small scale turbines “so they would know how to do it in their own country,” Rousseau said the demonstration project is “a public awareness thing.”Community Development Director George Dearborn said the commission will seek “engineered designs for verification that it’s structurally sound.”

Michael King writes for the Appleton Post-Crescent.

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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