BARRINGTON – Everyone’s in favor of renewable energy, in general, and lower electric bills for the town, in particular. The question is whether residents want a huge wind turbine on the bucolic Barrington landscape.
Tonight at the high school, where the town is proposing to construct a turbine, voters will get a chance to grill members of the town’s Committee for Renewable Energy about the project.
The session is designed to prepare people for next Wednesday’s Financial Town Meeting, where the wind turbine proposal will be put to a vote.
The Town Council and the School Committee have already supported the plan.
Last week, about 10 of the 30 people who would live within 800 feet of the structure were at the library for a briefing.
Tonight’s session is for the general public, said committee chairman James Bride.
It will run from 7 to 9 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.
Bride said the windmill will be 350 feet from the closest abutting property.
The pole that holds the blades will extend 246 feet in the air. Each of the three blades, which will spin at varying speeds depending on the strength of the wind, will be 82 feet long.
The biggest concerns so far among neighbors have been over safety and noise.
The committee says there are already 2,000 such turbines operating in North America.
Bride said several people in town, seeking firsthand experience with noise levels, have visited a similar turbine at Portsmouth Abbey.
Barrington’s turbine will be a bit quieter because it is a newer model and because it will operate a bit differently from the Portsmouth device, which always spins at the same speed.
“Everyone has a different opinion about the noise of the turbine,” Bride said yesterday. The idea that it “sounds like a dishwasher in your kitchen has been a popular sentiment.”
The committee has been telling people that the noise will be less than the sound of the wind blowing through the trees or nearby traffic noise.
The group also says it will not be a hazard to wildlife.
Barrington is pushing ahead with its project because, if approval comes soon, the town will receive an interest-free $2.1 million federal loan to help finance the project. If the town waits beyond this year, the loan will be lost.
If approved, the turbine should be generating power in 2010.
By C. Eugene Emery Jr.
Journal Staff Writer
21 May 2008
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