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It's all talk about turbine

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s enthusiasm for new ideas and environmentalism is admirable, but his ideas that catch the most media attention are often the most harebrained. Installing a giant wind turbine on City Hall Plaza would be more awkward than eco-friendly. The mayor should use his influence to promote feasible, wide-reaching changes, rather than eccentric, symbolic ones.

Menino’s proposed plaza turbine is primarily for show. The power producer would only make enough electricity to run one-quarter of City Hall, itself an inefficient building severely in need of green updates. The inconvenience and unsightliness of a downtown turbine would not be worth the paltry energy output.

Rather than wasting money on a feasibility study for a primarily symbolic structure to show Boston’s commitment to environmentalism, Menino should continue to bolster programs that support recycling, tree planting and environmentally friendly transportation. Menino has led many real efforts toward environmentalism in the city. Appearing at the AltWheels festival, arranging for grants to refit city vehicles so they pollute less and planning for accessible and safe bike routes around the city, Menino has helped boost Boston’s green reputation.

While wind turbines are a great energy solution in certain neighborhoods and regions, a downtown turbine would be symbolic, but only slightly valuable. Rather than blowing hot air about turbines, Menino should stick to what he has been doing and maybe even think about making the City Hall building more efficient.

The Daily Free Press

4 October 2007