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North Smithfield wind energy Q&A draws ire of attendees

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Wind Energy Development CEO Mark DePasquale planned a Q&A on the company’s wind turbine proposal “in an effort to promote factual information about the project and wind energy technology” and to create “an open form of communication between developers and town residents,” according to a press release from WED.

What he got was attendees walking out in disgust throughout the meeting, including one man who announced to the room, “I’m leaving! I’m sick and tired of lies.”

DePasquale, who lives 250 feet from a wind turbine he developed in North Kingstown, has proposed a 1.5-megawatt, 411-foot wind turbine for Ruth Pacheco’s land on Old Smithfield Road.

The Planning Board approved the proposal, but the Town Council passed a moratorium on wind turbines, and WED is now suing the Town Council.

DePasquale held a forum Tuesday evening at Scouter’s Hall, with around 40 people in attendance, aside from members of his company and family. He spent much of the two and a half hours at odds with town residents over the facts of health effects, property values and flicker.

“Don’t underestimate the power of a small town wanting to do the right thing,” meeting attendee Claire O’Hara told DePasquale. Her concerns are represented by Conserve Our Unique Rural Town (COURT), the group that formed to fight the proposal.

DePasquale assured the attendees there are no negative health effects from wind turbines, saying one woman has written extensively about wind turbine syndrome but “there has not been one other credible doctor who has confirmed it.”

A few people in the room responded, “That’s not true.”

The residents also questioned who the project will benefit, aside from Pacheco. WED’s leases are $4800 per month per turbine, meaning Pacheco will receive $1.5 million over 25 years, the length of the lease.

For complete story, see Thursday’s print edition of The Call.