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Wind turbine proponents make their case

WEST BARNSTABLE – Liz Argo attended a series of lectures held this month by opponents of Cape area wind energy projects.

As a longtime wind energy advocate and president of the Cape and Island Wind Energy Network, Argo knew she wanted to come up with a reply.

That response came Tuesday night at a forum highlighting existing wind turbine projects in New England.

“We felt compelled to have something in response to the Windwise forums,” she said, referring to lectures held by Windwise~Cape Cod highlighting claims of adverse health effects caused by wind turbines.

Tuesday’s event, held at Cape Cod Community College, featured short presentations by people involved with with turbine projects in Hull, Portsmouth, R.I., the Massachusetts Military Reservation and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. A letter was also read from the Portsmouth Abbey in Rhode Island.

Argo told the crowd that the projects were picked because the turbines had operated, some of them for many years, with no registered complaints or very few. Argo told the crowd the projects could serve as a model for any future Cape projects.

A 660-kilowatt turbine has been running for nearly a decade at Hull High School without a single written complaint about noise or flicker, said Richard Miller, an operations manager with the town. At a second 1.8-megawatt turbine at the town landfill, one person complained about flicker during the month of March, he said.

Paul O’Keefe, a facilities director at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, said the five-year-old turbine has saved the college about $225,000 in annual savings.

The panel took written and verbal questions from the audience, including whether they knew of property prices falling in the area. There were also general questions about a sense of danger attached to wind turbines.

In the winter, O’Keefe said, ice, up to a foot long, can fall off the turbines and reach up to 150 feet away. Because there are workers in the area, the school shuts down the turbine to clear it off, he said.

Gary Gump, a volunteer chairman of the sustainable energy subcommittee in Portsmouth, said one home has been sold in the general area of the turbine since it was installed about two years ago, so there was “no basis for a comparison.”

O’Keefe said the maritime academy has saved money, reduced emissions and helped educate students on alternative energy projects.

“It has been a great success for us,” he said.