Does the city of Salem want to be the first community in the United States to site a 400-foot, commercial-industrial wind turbine in a public park?
I urge my fellow citizens to consider the following facts:
The proposed turbine at Winter Island would be 40 stories or 400 feet high. The recent balloon test showing its height was disturbing enough, but a more accurate depiction would have been provided by using a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade-size or hot-air balloon to show the true dimension of this contraption.
The diameter of the blades would be almost a football field wide (253 feet). Each blade weighs 14,000 pounds (7 tons).
The area of the sweep of the blades inside the circle is over an acre of square footage – big enough to accommodate a Boeing 747 jetliner.
The noise of this turbine will radiate over 1.25 miles. (Noise on the water will travel even farther.)
The safety zone outlined by General Electric’s own specifications would require a 771-foot radius (1,542-foot diameter) zone of protection from the base of the turbine to any occupied structure, road or public use area.
Ninety-nine percent of commercial-industrial-sized wind turbines are located in states with population densities of 500 people per square mile or less. Salem’s population density is 5,000 people per square mile.
Flicker (when the light of the sun passes between the turbine’s blades) will travel all the way to the Victory Road, Larkin Lane and Memorial Drive neighborhoods. Flicker is similar to a strobe-light effect. In addition, these wind turbines have night lights on the tips of their blades that cause this type of effect in the evenings.
The placement of industrial-size turbines in Hull, Ipswich, Falmouth and Newburyport are not in public parks but on secured landfill sites or water filtration facilities, away from public activity. As a matter of record, Hull refused to place a turbine in their public park system because they knew it was inappropriate.
I visited the Falmouth wind turbine site and saw how it devastated a beautiful neighborhood. What that town’s government did was to seek a waiver to purchase a foreign-made wind turbine. GE said it would not put their turbine in that location because it was too dangerous.
The Falmouth turbine was a big mistake, and now people are suffering and the town lost $120,000 this year. The Falmouth taxpayers were sold a multimillion-dollar, high-risk experiment that failed, and now they are stuck with nothing more than additional costs to them. That is just what we cannot afford here in Salem.
Let me alert everyone that if Salem tries to get a waiver from siting what they say in their proposal will be the GE Energy Model 1.5sle product at Winter Island Park, you will know that public safety and the neighborhood protections are being ignored.
If common sense prevails, Salem will abandon this out-of-scale, clearly inappropriate location for such an enormous commercial-industrial wind turbine immediately. If not, then the City Council should exercise its legislative authority and vote it down.
If the turbine is approved, all of us who enjoy Winter Island Park, or who live in the Willows community and its surrounding neighborhoods, will have to come to grips with a completely different meaning of the term “Horribles Day,” as we will have to live with this monstrosity not just on the Fourth of July, but all day, every day, for many years to come.
(Editor’s note: Kevin Harvey is a former Salem city councilor who lives on Winter Island Road.)