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Councilors answer: The wind turbine proposal

The following is the third of four questions asked of all candidates running for a position on the City Council.

 All were provided the same questions.

Before September’s primary, At-Large candidates answered questions pertaining to City issues. Some of the questions in this final round of Q&A were the same, but councilors were given the opportunity to modify their answers if desired. Some At-Large candidates did not send new answers or indicated their stance on the issue remains the same. In these cases, we have re-printed original answers and noted this below.

Answers have not been modified except where minor typographical errors were made. There have been no alterations that affect meaning.

Candidate answers are presented in alphabetical order by last name.

 The presence of an asterisk (*) indicates a candidate is an incumbent.

Wind turbine – This has caused quite the buzz in the city. What are your thoughts on the proposal?


Robert McCarthy* (unopposed candidate) – I was unable to attend the first public meeting in August but since have received lots of correspondences on both sides of the proposal. I recently was able to take the trip to Hull and see both of their wind turbines. Just this past week, I went to Winter Island to see the balloon test that was done to simulate the wind turbine height for the proposed site. In a word, BIG. Several questions have been raised to whether the sighting of the turbine is legal under Article 97 and or any deed restrictions that may exist on the island. The whole matter of the Wind Turbine has been referred to the City Council committee of Public Health Safety and the Environment. In Committee this question as well as a whole variety of other questions that have been brought to my attention will tried to be addressed. I have always looked at this issue in a three-tiered approach. First, the sighting of the turbine on the island and whether it is actually legal or practical. Second, the evaluation of the issues that have been raised concerning health and public safety issues. Third, the financial aspect of the proposal and determination if the proposal is actually fiscally responsible. We are still in the information gathering stage at this point. There is a long way to go and we need to go slow to make sure we get it right. Not one person that I have talked to on this issue is against renewable energy. I like many others need to be convinced that this sight is the best for Salem. I am not a lawyer nor is this a trial, but in a trial you are innocent until proven guilty. In the case of the wind turbine, wrong until proven right. The burden of proof is on the proponents.


Mike Sosnowski* (unopposed candidate) – Did Not Answer


Jean Pelletier* – Visiting the town of Hull for my second time in six years, I believe turbines are a good financial aspect to the community, as well a clean energy source. My concern with the island location is this turbine may be a little to overwhelming. There may be another location on private property within the city. But no matter where we try to locate it, there will always be resistance from the abutters. As for Marblehead concerns, I personally don’t care about their view, or view point, period.

Todd Siegel – The initial thought of a wind turbine standing greater than three hundred feet in such close proximity to residential neighborhoods is scary. Many issues jump to the forefront when discussing the turbine: Is it safe? Will there be noise and health issues? Will there be a flicker effect? How will it effect the surrounding neighborhoods? Would it decrease property value and thus decrease tax revenue too? Who will bear the cost? How many years will it take before the turbine becomes profitable? Will it destroy Winter Island and the surrounding residential areas? As you can see, these are just a few of the issues that still need to be examined. I will have to do my own due diligence on this issue. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the ferry trip down to Hull, but I plan on traveling down there on my own to view the facility and the surrounding neighborhoods. The Turbine Facility will only give you their company line. The real truth lies in the community. I plan on spending a day in the neighborhood, speaking with as many residents as possible. After reviewing documents from both sides of this proposal, doing my own extensive research and spending a day in the neighborhood, I will be more informed and able to offer a more concrete answer. Common sense screams that this is not a good location for a wind turbine. I believe in green technology, but not at the expense of a neighborhood. As with all future expansions, we need to evaluate the danger to our neighborhoods before we move forward. If we destroy the neighborhoods, we destroy Salem!


Jerry Ryan* (unopposed candidate) – The idea to build a turbine is a creative way to reduce our carbon footprint but I am not sure that Winter Island is the place for the turbine. I went on the trip to Hull and although my concerns about the noise were put to rest I found the turbine to be massive and the one proposed for Winter Island is going to be even bigger. I am concerned with the fall zone if the turbine were to fall down. Also if access to that part of the island is prohibited, I would not support the project. If the turbine is built at Winter Island, I would like to see a majority of the money go back into Winter Island to improve and maintain the park.


John H. Ronan* – I am a proponent of renewable energy including wind power. My two concerns over the proposed wind turbine relate to its proposed location and projected costs. The unanswered question I still have is why our turbine will cost $4.2 million dollars when the two turbines we visited in Hull cost $700 thousand and $3 million respectively. And, the cost of second turbine was inflated by over a million dollars as it was situated on a capped land fill site. The City does not have $4.2 million therefore we would need to borrow it. Given the neighborhood opposition to placing the wind turbine on Winter Island, as a matter of priority, I’d rather see Salem borrow the approximately $1.4 million to clean the 9.2 acre Transfer Station site. I think that for a variety of reasons, the return on investment would be a lot better.

Josh Turiel – Based on what I’ve seen first hand (I was on the trip to Hull), and the research I’ve done, I don’t have any issue with the proposal to site a wind turbine at Winter Island. In fact, I’d ask if there were perhaps other areas where we could integrate a turbine of similar or smaller size within the city. I would also like to see us put some resources into using solar generation as well, using some of our municipal buildings like the schools to site panels. We need to reduce our dependence on oil and coal, and this is a way to make an impact. I haven’t seen any scientifically credible evidence yet says that a wind turbine is a bad idea – but I would re-evaluate if that came to light.


Paul C. Prevey * – Alternative sources of green energy, like wind power, should be explored when ever and where ever those opportunities present themselves. A wind turbine in Salem has many attractive features, however like most grand proposals, the devil is in the details. The location on Winter Island seems to be a less than desirable location. Winter Island is a truly unique place with a very unique history which is enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. Placement of a 400 foot wind turbine on Winter Island would ruin the special character of the park given that it is completely out of scale for that particular location. Its close proximity to residential homes also raises serious concerns with respect to any potential negative impact it may have on residents over time. As such, I believe alternate locations should be explored before moving ahead with this proposal.

Ken Sawicki – I am still all for Green Initiatives. They can work out. I would like to see a study of comparisons made and why a wind turbine of this size is the best choice. Also I would like to see an independent analysis of cost and revenue projections supporting present claims. After taking the ferry trip to Hull. It was surprising to learn that Salem is in view at ground level from Hull. We should keep in mind the skyline we create and what we project to others.


Joseph O’Keefe * (unopposed) – Did not Answer


Darek Barcikowski – I consider myself a proponent of green energy and an environmentalist. I would like to see wind energy produced in Salem and believe that inevitably we will see a turbine in our city in the near future. I have raised concerns about the location at Winter Island and suggested we wait and see what opportunities for wind energy arise at the Dominion site once the power plant ceases operations. Wind energy is explored in the study prepared by three consulting firms. Off shore wind and a private/public partnership remain as possibilities. Whether that option lies too far into the future remains to be answered. The public process during which residents have been educating themselves about this proposal and voicing their concerns is by no means over. Some of the questions have been answered and concerns eased. Many remain. I would be inclined to support the construction of a turbine at a site that is determined to be the best location for this project. But wind energy should be looked at as just one of the solutions in our efforts to become green and save money. Solar panels are being installed in Swampscott schools. They will cut the electric bills by 25% and there is no investment cost involved. Perhaps as we sort out the wind turbine proposal, we can take a look at solar energy as well.

Kevin Carr Jr. – Like most people, I am supportive of alternative energy. My biggest concern a few months back when the wind turbine was first proposed to be located at Winter Island, was whether the operation of the turbine would create a nuisance for the neighbors living in the Willows. Feedback from both proponents and opponents who made the recent ferry trip to Hull to view an operational wind turbine has quelled that concern. I don’t believe that the installation of a turbine creates a nuisance as a result of its size, and to the contrary believe a wind turbine would be aesthetically pleasing, adding to the character of Winter Island and the Willows neighborhood. When elected, I will work with the Administration, the members of the City Council, and the neighbors to analyze the impact of any potential issues that may arise with the installation and operation of a wind turbine on Winter Island and make an informed decision as to whether it makes sense for Salem.

Matthew Fraser (Same Answer Published on Aug. 30) – I like the proposal. The most convincing opinion I’ve read on the subject came from a letter by Jeff Barz-Snell of the Salem Renewable Energy coalition in a letter to the Salem News on August 19. He wrote; ‘I sincerely hope voters and leaders of Salem will rationally review the objective facts, consider the interests of the entire city, and then support the common-sense proposal the mayor is putting forth for a wind turbine at Winter Island. When faced with the multiple challenges of shrinking tax bases, increasing energy costs, reducing our carbon footprint and the long-term needs of our beloved seaside park, the answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind – literally.’ As a country we should have a national energy policy, but we don’t. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t put our heads together locally to assure we’re benefiting from the green revolution. And, one way to do this is continue to learn about everything about how this wind turbine project can be a part of that change.

Thomas H. Furey* (Same Answer Published on Aug. 30) – Our country is in the midst of a global energy crisis. The word crisis in Chinese means danger and opportunity. We have the danger of depending primarily on foreign oil and we are held economic hostage to them. There is no one magic bullet to solving the crisis, but the opportunity of alternative energy sources are becoming more and more realistic and possible. Wave energy sources, solar power, wind power, etc. are choices. There is no one silver bullet. I am a strong advocate and proponent of wind turbines as one of many scenarios and choices. From Prince Edward Island to Hull and Cape Wind are in the forefront of giving us a brighter economic future in our growing energy needs. We need to tone the debate, dialogue and discussion of alternative energy sources. We are all stakeholders and we need to give wind turbines a chance in Salem. The premier and prime site in Salem for our first one is Winter Island. I am an advocate and supporter of this site. I look long range when wind turbines will not be so large and someday soon individual neighborhoods and homes will rely on smaller wind turbines. Let’s give it a chance in Salem. Let’s be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

Teasie Riley Goggin (Same Answer Published on Aug. 30) – Green Energy takes a lot of green stuff (money) to develop. The economy at the present does not warrant large bonding by the city. It would be of great interest to the citizens of Salem to know exactly how much we have bonded for in the last five years for capital improvements. The city has been the innovator for the Power Plant and the South Essex Sewer Plant. Other neighboring cities or towns deserve a chance to be first to blaze a trail with the first 300 to 400 foot wind turbine. The $4.2 million, even with grants should make Salem citizens pause until we know how much we already have bonded, for even with a low rate it is still money owed.

Joan B. Lovely* (Same Answer Published on Aug. 30) – I applaud the Renewable Energy Task Force and the Administration for the tremendous work done to date to study and site a wind turbine in our city. I do not know of anyone who is against green energy, including myself. I look forward to more information to determine whether the current proposal of sitting a 480’ industrial size wind turbine on the Island is viable from all perspectives, including public health and safety for all our day and overnight visitors who enjoy the island year round, and for our residents who live close by. I also look forward to more information regarding the extent of the usability of our current recreational and historic resources and uses on the Island should an industrial size turbine be erected.

Steven A. Pinto* (Same Answer Published on Aug. 30) – I am all for alternative energy, but I have concerns about a 400-foot wind turbine in a public park. The city had one meeting on the wind turbine which I attended. There seemed to be a lot of data that left more questions than answers. Before the city spends $4.2 million on a wind turbine I would like to see us look into putting alternative energy solar, windsocks, on top of our schools. The electricity for schools per year on average is close to $1 million. I look forward to the future meetings in regard to the wind turbine. We need many questions answered and more data from other cities and towns’ experiences with wind turbines.

Matthew Richard – I support the Wind Turbine project. The research has been done over the last 4 years to determine that Winter Island is the most productive place for it. We need to look at other methods of covering the tax loss when the power plant closes, and using this green energy resource is a great start. I feel that it will add to the aesthetic presence of the area, and I would like to see a portion of the profits go back into the restoring of Winter Island as well. It is important for us, as a City, to obtain the proper funding as soon as possible so this opportunity does not pass us by.

Arthur C. Sargent III* (Same Answer Published on Aug. 30) —I still have a lot to learn about this proposal. I am getting e-mails daily with a lot of technical information about windmill design, manufacturers specifications, safety rules pertaining to windmill operation and regulations relating to the distance of restricted buffer zones required on the ground around the base of a Windmill. I will listen to the Salem Residents who use Winter Island and the concerns they have about a portion of the Island being closed to public use if the Windmill is built and the residents who live in and around the Willows neighborhood about its potential to impact their quality of life. I am supportive of green power as a way to generate clean renewable energy, diversify the way we produce electricity and reduce our dependence on foreign fuel supplies. I would like to see a windmill somewhere in Salem where it will work efficiently and have no adverse impact on residential quality of life in the area.