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Energy committee in Barrington is building a website

The new chairman for the Committee for Renewable Energy in Barrington wants residents to know that there will be a new website constructed in order to share more information about the wind turbine project in town. David Baum, who was a member of the initial Barrington Wind Power Exploratory Committee and recently was named chairman of the CREB, said a communication subcommittee has been formed and is working hard to build an information website about the wind turbine project. He said a separate subcommittee is working on gathering information about safety concerns surrounding the project.

Mr. Baum said there is a lot of information circulating about wind turbines and wants to make sure his board’s website becomes a definitive source for reliable details. He wants people to get an accurate picture of the project.

“We don’t want misinformation hurting this,” he said.

Wind turbine talk started more than a year ago in Barrington. Officials studied the potential for a wind turbine in town and were encouraged when their application for a $2.1 million no interest loan from the IRS was approved.

Barrington High School was the tentative site for the proposed wind turbine for a number of reasons – it was town-owned property, the high school was the largest consumer of electricity in town, and at that time a state law restricted energy harnessed in one location from being transferred to another site.

Residents at the May Financial Town Meeting approved a $2.4 million bond for the project, while officials told them that many of the details of the work were still undecided, including location. Recently, legislation passed allowing the transfer of energy from one site to another, and now officials are waiting to hear if the IRS loan will be accessible if the turbine site is changed from the high school location to a spot on Legion Way, which town council and CREB members recently stated is their top choice.

Abutters and some other residents questioned the initial proposed location, stating that the tower, which would be more than 300 feet tall, was too close to the high school building and nearby residences.

Mr. Baum said those concerns and others are being addressed by the CREB. He added that a request for proposals has recently been drafted by officials and should be garnering some responses from contractors in the near future.

“This is not a contract, this is not a final decision,” he said. “This will help us understand some of the issues and costs that will be associated with this project.”

Mr. Baum said that work on a feasibility study is also under way, and other volunteers are taking active roles in the work.

“We’re trying to bring science to this, so people understand what is happening,” he said.

The new chairman, who took over from Jim Bride who resigned his post because he was moving out of town, said residents should know that this process is not complete and nothing is finalized. Their voices and concerns and recommendations, he said, will be heard. He emphasized also that this project is an opportunity for Barrington to take a leadership role in renewable energy in Barrington.

“We can be an example for the rest of the state,” he said.

— By Josh Bickford


23 July 2008