Article

Council OKs referendum on wind turbine

Council members say they want to get a better sense of whether to take a serious look at a wind energy project.

BRISTOL -- Local voters will be asked in November's general election whether they support installing a wind turbine in town. They will also have the chance to register their opinions on possible sites for a machine.

The Town Council last night unanimously voted to hold the nonbinding referendum Nov. 7 and instructed Town Solicitor Michael Ursillo to draw up the questions that will be added to the local ballot.

The town has no plan to purchase a wind turbine and has only done cursory studies of locations where one could be installed. However, council members want to hold the referendum to get a better sense of whether they should take a serious look at going ahead with a wind energy project.

Town officials have been talking about investing in a large turbine for more than two years, and the council has even created a subcommittee to study renewable energy options.

Lefteris Pavlides, a professor of architecture at Roger Williams University and a wind energy expert, has been informally advising the town. He also worked with Portsmouth Abbey, which last March put up the first turbine in Rhode Island that can generate significant amounts of electricity.

Last night, Pavlides was at the council meeting to... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

BRISTOL -- Local voters will be asked in November's general election whether they support installing a wind turbine in town. They will also have the chance to register their opinions on possible sites for a machine.

The Town Council last night unanimously voted to hold the nonbinding referendum Nov. 7 and instructed Town Solicitor Michael Ursillo to draw up the questions that will be added to the local ballot.

The town has no plan to purchase a wind turbine and has only done cursory studies of locations where one could be installed. However, council members want to hold the referendum to get a better sense of whether they should take a serious look at going ahead with a wind energy project.

Town officials have been talking about investing in a large turbine for more than two years, and the council has even created a subcommittee to study renewable energy options.

Lefteris Pavlides, a professor of architecture at Roger Williams University and a wind energy expert, has been informally advising the town. He also worked with Portsmouth Abbey, which last March put up the first turbine in Rhode Island that can generate significant amounts of electricity.

Last night, Pavlides was at the council meeting to present preliminary findings from a survey on wind energy that he administered along with Jana Hesser, a professor at Brown University's School of Medicine.

The early results of the survey of 723 residents of Portsmouth and Bristol show widespread support for wind energy. When asked about specific sites in town for a turbine, including the Town Beach and the old landfill, the vast majority of the survey respondents reacted positively.

However, Council member Halsey C. Herreshoff said there may have been a reason for the positive response. He took the survey and said the information that was presented and the questions that were asked seemed designed to lead to responses in support.

Although Pavlides disagreed, he said the results of a referendum would be beyond question.

"A referendum would help validate what you have in front of you," he told the council.

The proposal that has been discussed in Bristol calls for purchasing a turbine, erecting it on town-owned land, and using it to provide power to municipal buildings or street lights.

The town of Hull, Mass., bought one turbine to power street lights several years ago and, motivated by the savings on electricity it created, recently bought a second turbine.

After the success of the abbey's turbine, the Town Council in Portsmouth is looking into putting a turbine at the public high school or middle school.

There was a brief debate about the aesthetics of turbines last night, with Herreshoff making it clear that he opposes putting one in town and indirectly referring to them as "visual pollution."

"I think it would be a total shame to stick these totally modern devices all over town," he said.

Councilor Mary A. Parella didn't seem so concerned.

"We've always talked about one to start with, maybe two," she said. "We're not talking about a wind farm. We have the opportunity to reduce costs for town government. I think there's nothing wrong with taking the first step."

Councilor Kenneth A. Marshall, who proposed the referendum, said that everyone in town needs to have a say before the council decides whether to draw up plans.

"Something of this magnitude is important enough for everyone in town to have a say on it," he said.

akuffner@projo.com / (401) 277-7457


 


Source: http://www.projo.com/cgi-bi...

JUL 20 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/3581-council-oks-referendum-on-wind-turbine
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