Clean Energy Good for the Economy

In a letter to the Salem News, CEO of Groom Energy John Guerster reminds us that clean energy technologies are putting Massachusetts residents to work:

Clean energy companies in Massachusetts already employ 64,000 people, and that number is growing. The industry added more than 4,000 jobs in 2010, a growth rate of almost 7 percent, and that rate will likely double in 2011. Whether providing energy services, like my own company, or pushing disruptive technologies for electric vehicle batteries, solar thermal, smart grid or wind, clean energy firms are growing and expanding in Massachusetts every day. Read more.

 

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Alla Weinstein Wins Renewable Energy Award for Innovation

Alla Weinstein won Renewable Energy World Magazine’s innovation award for demonstrating the effectiveness of building ocean turbines on platforms. The 2 MW turbines can be up and running in just 2 years. The first turbines are off the coast of Portugal. Check it out:

http://bcove.me/4tzrsbnb

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Scituate Turbine Up and Running

After eight years, Scituate’s 1.5 MW turbine began producing power in late February. As reported in the Boston Globe:

The turbine will be owned and operated by Scituate Wind LLC, a company created with Solaya Energy LLC and principals of Palmer Capital Corp. in 2009. Their funding, along with a $3 million bond from MassDevelopment, enabled the project to be built on land that the town is leasing to Scituate Wind for a 15-year term. The town has the option of renewing the lease with the company for two consecutive five-year terms.

In exchange for leasing the land for $1, the town will obtain electricity for one-half its municipal needs at a discounted rate, saving an estimated $4.5 million over the next 15 years. Read more.

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Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of Independent Expert Panel

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in collaboration with the Department of Public Health (DPH) convened a panel of independent experts to identify any documented or potential health impacts of risks that may be associated with exposure to wind turbines, and, specifically, to facilitate discussion of wind turbines and public health based on scientific findings.

The health panels results have just been released.

The report provides a thorough review of the literature on sound from turbines and the potential for sleep deprivation. This is a complex subject, and much depends on the type of wind turbine and the where the turbine is sited. As Salem reviews the question of whether a wind turbine at Winter Island could disturb close neighbors, this report will be a useful resource.

The findings of the report confirm that there is no scientific evidence to support “wind turbine syndrome.” The expert panel found no evidence of “infrasound” or vibrations that impact human health.

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Not All Willows Residents oppose turbine

Salem Willows resident Julie Whitlow explains her support for the proposed Winter Island Turbine in the Salem News (January 16). She notes the importance of getting information from peer-reviewed sources–not any scare-mongering website.

As a Willows resident and homeowner, I respect my neighbors who disagree with my support for the proposed wind turbine on Winter Island.

Our different opinions should not divide us as a community. However, the fallacies and untruths expressed by Kathy Driscoll-Gauthier in her Jan. 9 letter to the editor (“Willows homeowner no fan of proposed turbine”) should not go unchallenged.

What is best for the Willows neighborhood, the city of Salem, the region and the planet can be debated; however, hyperbole and fear should not obscure fact. Much of the information that Ms. Gauthier questions has been presented to the community and the city at numerous public forums. The reality is that the Winter Island site was chosen as one of two possible sites for the turbine based on consistent wind. The only other possible site was Forest River Park, even closer to more residences.

I, too, have also done research. I have visited the Ipswich turbine twice, on a very windy day and a day with moderate winds. I accompanied my daughter doing research for a science project and a scientist friend with a decibel reader. On both occasions the ambient noise was louder than the turbine. On both occasions, an electric toothbrush also produced more noise than the turbine.

I have also read several peer-reviewed articles from neutral authors about noise and light flicker. We can all find information via a Google search that fuels our political or personal agendas. What we must do is seek literature vetted and researched by scientific experts. All of the materials that I have read have similar findings: Noise is negligible and light flicker will be limited. I have found no vetted evidence for any other health risks.

My family and I enjoy Winter Island as much as the other residents of Salem, and we have spent many summer days at the playground and on the beach. We have attended school picnics there and played pirate at the fort. We have fed seagulls, walked the dog, and gone to sailing camp. We have attended birthday parties at the function hall, and have seen a fox den in the dunes.

The turbine will not prohibit any of these activities. It is located at the far end, near the harbormaster’s house. I have stood in the 15-foot radius that will be the base of the turbine. The rest of the island will be open for all of the activities that we have enjoyed thus far.

Based on the extensive feasibility study commissioned by the city, there does not seem to be reason to doubt there is enough wind at Winter Island for the turbine to pay for itself and reduce the city’s electricity costs by 50 percent. My property taxes may not go down as a result of the turbine, but revenues from the turbine will protect us from future price increases and afford the city additional revenue.

But perhaps the greatest reason that I and many of my friends in the Willows support the turbine, is that I would rather live in a community that is a leader in the production of clean energy.

There is no question that climate change is going to affect us all unless we take drastic and meaningful action as a society. To pretend it isn’t so is fantasy. If the warmest winter in recent decades, this past fall’s missing color burst, last summer’s record number of oppressive days, destructive freezes in Florida, killer tornadoes in Alabama, tsunamis in Japan, mudslides across the Americas, melting ice caps, scorched crops, and disappearing bees, don’t make you nervous, one lone wind turbine should not alarm you.

I’d rather see our community lead the way to a more sustainable future than regret not having done more when it’s too late and the Willows is underwater.

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WindWise Strikes Again: Duxbury

Chris Senie, the attorney supporting those opposing the proposed Winter Island wind turbine, has been hired by WindWise Duxbury to create fear and confusion about the impact of a community-scale wind turbine. From the Boston Globe:

In Duxbury, wind project’s backers cry foul

Duxbury advocates for wind power say their town is being targeted by a well-funded lobby seeking to kill wind energy projects throughout the state.

Local opponents of a potential wind power turbine on North Hill are drawing on backing from the deep pockets of Massachusetts Windwise, which provides prewritten material either not applicable to Duxbury or based on bad science, said Jim Savicki, cochairman of Sustainable Duxbury.

“They have hooked into a group that has all sorts of support,’’ Savicki said, after an extensive presentation critical of the town’s wind energy effort wowed a majority of the Board of Selectmen. “The funding has to be coming from somewhere.’’ Read more.

 

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Mass Clean Energy Center Issues New Acoustic Study Methodology

This winter the City of Salem plans to further explore whether placing a wind turbine at Winter Island would cause undue disturbance of neighbors due to the sound of the turbine. Just in time the Mass Clean Energy Center has issued new guidelines for acoustic engineers to ensure studies meet the highest standard. According to the recently released draft document guidance is provided on:

1) determining the ambient sound levels,
2) calculating the hub height wind speeds, and
3) modeling the increase in ambient sound pressure level associated with selected turbine(s) operating at the proposed location(s).

In particular, the methodology addresses the importance of collecting sufficient measurements in a project area to firmly establish the ambient sound levels at wind speeds high enough for the turbine to generate power. For a wind energy project, this task is complicated by the fact that simply measuring the lowest L90 sound level in a given one- to two-day period is insufficient because winds may be too light during that time period for turbine operation.

 You can read the revised methodology guidelines here.

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Winter Island Turbine Positive Step

In a recent Salem News letter, William Story suggests we err on the side of caution when it comes to global climate change. We need to make a commitment to the future of the planet, and begin taking steps, large and small, away from our reliance on fossil fuels.

I feel strongly that the proposed wind turbine on Winter Island, even though it will generate far less energy than the power plant on Fort Avenue, will have a relatively significant and positive impact on the citizens of Salem. Perhaps equally significant is that it will be another incremental and symbolic step to a worldwide commitment that eventually must be made. Read more.

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Wind Turbine Makes Sense

Jeff Barz-Snell makes a great case for the Winter Island wind turbine in the November 30 Salem News.

Salem has a huge opportunity to harness its wind resources safely and beautifully, despite what a small group of neighbors in the Willows and a handful of wealthy folks across the harbor in Marblehead claim.

Winter Island is the only city-owned site that combines excellent wind resources and adequate distances from residences. Unlike other towns such as Hull that had several potential locations to choose from, Winter Island is the only one in Salem. Fortunately for us, it is also an ideal site for many reasons. Read more.

 

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Ipswich votes for second turbine

In a two to one vote, the Ipswich town meeting voted to allow town selectman to lease land and begin the process for eventually installing a second wind turbine on Town Farm Road. If you haven’t taken a trip up to Ipswich to see the turbine erected this past spring, it’s well worth the time. Find out for yourself what it feels like to stand next to this beautiful wind machine.

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