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Trip to see Hull wind turbine

SALEM – The city is taking residents to Hull next week to view a wind turbine similar in size to the controversial one proposed for Winter Island.

Mayor Kim Driscoll and the Renewable Energy Task Force, proponents of the nearly 400-foot turbine, are organizing the Tuesday, Oct. 18, trip aboard the Salem ferry. The boat is scheduled to depart at 1 p.m. for the 50-minute ride to Hull.

Residents can reserve a seat on the 149-passenger ferry by emailing their name and address to wind@salem.com. Seats are limited.

Although the trip is open to all residents, Driscoll said they are targeting people who live near Winter Island, including opponents of the $4.2 million proposal.

A group calling itself Salem Wind, composed of Salem and Marblehead residents, formed recently to fight the project. Some of the Salem members live on Winter Island Road or in Salem Willows, both of which are close to the project site.

“I’m hoping folks who are concerned about the turbine will come,” the mayor said. “I don’t want anyone to think they’re going to be skunks at a lawn party. They are welcome. We want probing questions. We want to know what their concerns are to see if we can address them.”

The mayor also invited city councilors and members of the Park and Recreation Commission, both of which would have to vote on a turbine project.

In addition to the ferry trip, a balloon test is scheduled at Winter Island from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The balloon demonstration is being done to simulate the height of the proposed structure.

The tentative site for the turbine is on a tip of Winter Island near the harbormaster’s office.

The city also has posted answers to frequently asked questions on the city website. They can be found by clicking on “Boards and Commissions” and then going to the Renewable Energy Task Force.

Salem Wind also has posted information on its website at salemwind.org.

The city has been investigating building a wind turbine for several years. It conducted a one-year wind test on Winter Island, which found that winds appear to be strong enough to make the project economically feasible. A study done by a city-sponsored consultant concluded that the proposed 1.5-megawatt turbine could generate $200,000 to $700,000 in annual revenue.

Opponents have raised concerns about noise, health, birds and other issues and also oppose putting an “industrial wind turbine” in a public park close to residents.

Driscoll said they are visiting Hull because it has two turbines, including a large one near a neighborhood similar to the one proposed for Salem.

“It’s a good example of a turbine the size and scope proposed for Winter Island that is located in proximity” to a neighborhood, she said. “That will give us a better look at the impact.”

The city has held one public meeting on the project. A second meeting has not yet been scheduled.