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Lacey officials postpone decision on Walmart wind turbines

LACEY – A decision on whether a local Walmart can built 10 wind turbine towers in its Route 9 parking lot was postponed Monday night for the third time.

During the three-hour meeting of the township Board of Adjustment, representatives of OmniWind Energy Systems of Dublin, Pa. returned to make their case that the turbines, which would be placed on lamp posts 54-feet height, were safe and noiseless.

Each of the turbines would provide more than 4,000 kilowatt hours of power annually, they said.

Carl Douglas, the president and co-founder of OmniWind, presented two videos that showed one pole with the identical wind turbine system at the firm’s corporate headquarters with wind conditions ranging from 6 to 21 miles per hour.

“We are proving to you that it contributes no noise,’’ Douglas said, during his presentation.

George W. Smith, the general manager of the Walmart in Lacey and the store’s co-manager Jason Blalack, testified during the meeting Monday.

Blalack said solar power panels on the roof of the store were recently added and would be operational soon.

The solar panels will generate about 70 percent of the Walmart’s annual energy needs while the wind turbines will generate less than one percent of the store’s energy needs.

Board member Colleen Bradley asked Smith about the public feedback he has heard concerning the wind turbine plan.

Smith admitted he had not heard any positive feedback from his customers on the idea and had read many negative views on the plan.

Blalack could not answer board member Barbara Vena’s question on why Walmart wanted to add the wind turbines in addition to the solar panels.

Smith said there was no further room on the store’s roof for additional solar panels.

“Why bother if it is only generating one percent power? Solar panels are not a (visual) distraction and not ugly,’’ resident Regina Discenza said.

“Why risk my home’s property value?’’ resident Susan Guida said. “If you really want to conserve power why not close the store down for a few hours rather than operate for 24 hours?’’

“We’d still be stocking the store in the evenings,’’ Smith said, about limiting store hours.

Douglas said the Walmart in Lacey would be the first to utilize his company’s wind turbine technology, though his company has a national contract with the chain.