Salem Mayor Kimberley Driscoll and the Salem Renewable Energy Task Force have launched a public information campaign to inform residents about the proposal to build a 380-foot wind turbine on Winter Island.
The campaign is in response to an Aug. 2 public meeting on the turbine, during which there was a spirited back-and-forth between opponents and proponents, both armed with Internet ammo.
“The wonderful thing about the Internet is it has everything, some of it valuable, some of it not,” Driscoll said at that meeting. “We want to try to make sure we stick to the things most valuable, hopefully fair and objective, and use our website for the Renewable Energy Task Force page as a way to gather information.”
A consultant recently completed a state-funded feasibility study for the city that demonstrated the technical and economic viability of the single turbine with a capacity of 1.6 megawatts, or enough electricity to power 300 to 500 homes. The turbine would draw an estimated $586,000 in revenue annually and save the city about $1 million a year in electric costs.
But during the three-hour forum on Aug. 2, several Salem Willows and Marblehead residents expressed concerns that the turbine would be too loud, too expensive, and unsafe. Shortly after the meeting, Driscoll sat down with the task force and environmentalists to determine the strategy for a public information campaign.
The campaign had a soft launch last week when the task force attended the Greater Salem Green Drinks monthly meeting on Tuesday night at the Black Lobster restaurant. Members of the task force did not give a formal presentation, but they did answer questions.
Similar Q&A sessions will be held at neighborhood meetings throughout September.
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