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Turbine location raises important safety concerns

As a proponent of green energy, I have to respond to the recent opinions endorsing the proposed wind turbine on Winter Island.

A prudent review process should allow time to consider the pros and cons of any recommendation.Not everyone is in favor of this project and many Salem-area residents need to be informed of the possible hazards.

There are several risks to building a wind turbine in a densely populated area within a public park.

The proposed GE turbine has a tip height of 388 feet, and the rotors are 252 feet wide.According to GE Energy, “ice shedding/ice throw and other hazards can create risk in the vicinity of a wind turbine park.”

Turbine manufacturers recommend that these risks be mitigated by establishing setbacks of 426 feet. In northern climates such as ours, the distance increases because of the high probability of icing at the site, so the ice-throw setback is extended to more than 770 feet.The proposed site on Winter Island does not provide adequate setbacks to ensure public safety.

In the summer, the Winter Island boat launching ramp, playground, and a large portion of Salem Harbor, including boat moorings, are at risk because they fall inside of the recommended setback provisions.Year ’round, the roadways to Winter Island and the surrounding area also face hazards, such as turbine collapse and blade drop, because the proposed wind turbine does not fall within the recommended setback guidelines.

The city officials and designers can’t simply ignore these safety recommendations without assuming all liabilities.All it would take is one lawsuit to negate the forecasted profits, close Winter Island, or force the decommissioning of the wind turbine completely.

This proposed turbine is simply too large for a public park. A large solar array could generate the same electricity without any danger to the public.

I strongly recommend that the City of Salem reconsider its plans to place a wind turbine on Winter Island.

Salem is a thriving city, let’s not ruin the positive improvements by rushing in with a one-size-fits-all energy solution.There are so many better alternatives.

Michael Horton