FAIRHAVEN – Wind energy developers in Fairhaven and project opponents both agree that the goal of Tuesday’s wind energy forum is town education. But that doesn’t mean the evening won’t degenerate into a shouting match as previous wind meetings have done, they said.
Organized by developer Gordon Deane and town officials, the forum will bring together state and medical representatives, Fairhaven project members, and a representative from the Portsmouth, R.I., wind project for a panel presentation on wind-related health and safety concerns.
A working agenda, up-to-date as of Friday afternoon, includes a kick-off presentation by state Department of Environmental Protection Deputy Commissioner Alicia Barton McDevitt, followed by a five-person panel presentation. McDevitt, Deane said, will speak on the state health impact report released earlier this week.
Panelists include Gary Gump of the Portsmouth Economic Development Committee and Dr. Robert McCunney of Massachusetts General Hospital and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
McCunney co-authored a 2009 report on sound impacts from wind turbines, prepared for the American and Canadian wind energy associations.
Two additional panelists are from the Fairhaven Wind project: Sumul Shah, of Lumus Construction, and Peter Guldberg, a TechEnvironmental sound consultant to the project, and the final panelist, Curt Devlin, will represent Windwise. Devlin has been Windwise’s main researcher and gave the group’s research presentation to the Board of Health in December.
A 60-minute Q&A will be limited to questions from Fairhaven residents because, Deane said, “selectmen asked for a meeting to address the residents’ concerns.”
Although steps have been taken to keep proceedings calm and civil, including the hiring of a professional moderator with experience running contentious meetings, Deane, nonetheless, expressed concerns.
“We’re hoping everyone will be civil,” he said.
Windwise spokesman Ken Pottel acknowledged it may be a passionate meeting, but said he believes it is only because people are afraid.
“I’m not condoning anything illegal, but I do feel it’s justified anger and passion that people have,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’re going out there rioting or anything. We’re (just) citizens who are concerned.”
For those unable to attend in person, the forum will be broadcast live over cable access television, according to Selectman Brian Bowcock.
The meeting will be from 7-9:30 p.m. at Hastings Middle School.
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