BERLIN – Berlin officials put plans for a wind turbine on hold after hearing concerns from residents of the neighborhood where it was set to be erected.
More than a dozen residents of Schoolfield Street and the surrounding area attended the Jan. 14 meeting of the mayor and council seeking more information about the wind turbine proposed for the electric substation in the neighborhood.
“You don’t live on Schoolfield Street,” said resident Linda Bowen. “We do. I don’t have enough information.”
In December, electrical engineer Doug Richards came to the council with the idea of building a 50-kilowatt wind turbine at the Schoolfield Street electric substation. Richards said that unlike most turbines, his would use a direct current generator and would not have a gear box.
“It’s a new class of machinery,” he said. “This’ll be the first commercial application of a wind turbine like this anywhere on the planet.”
He said the turbine would be 90 feet tall and would be located behind the substation, which it would provide with electricity. Because it will not have a gear box, he said it would be quiet and maintenance-free.
Once constructed, the Berlin turbine would be a model for others in the industry, officials said.
“It’ll be quite the unique drawing card,” Mayor Gee Williams said, indicating that those coming to see the turbine would stay and shop in Berlin.
Although the council instructed staff to approach residents of the neighborhood about the project after Richards proposed it, several of those at the Jan. 14 meeting said they had not heard about it.
“This is the first real information I’m hearing from this gentleman now,” Bowen said.
Williams said it was the exception rather than the rule that town representatives even went door to door.
“Nor is it required by law,” he said.
Elizabeth Street resident Alphonso Holden asked whether there had been any consideration as to the traffic that would be created by the turbine or the impact it would have on property values.
“Is this going to affect us in an adverse way?” he asked.
Councilman Elroy Brittingham said he thought the project would do more good than harm.
“I was really concerned about noise,” he said, “but he convinced me that without gears there would be no noise.”
Richards, who said the project was his life’s work, said the new technology was intended to help make renewable energy projects more affordable.
“That’s the whole point of this exercise,” he said, “to lower the cost of green energy.”
The council opted to delay a decision on the project until residents’ concerns could be addressed.
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