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Monday, September 12, 2011

Guys who are anti-wind energy used to be for it

"Whatever it is, we're AGAINST it!"
By Will Collette
Tom Gentz: "I used to love it but now I hate it"
When Town Council members - and adamant wind energy foes - Tom Gentz and Dan Slattery were officers of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance, they were for wind energy.

They didn't like the way the previous Council (comprised entirely of CCA-endorsed candidates) handled the Whalerock wind farm proposal for industrial wind turbines overlooking Route One. But they liked the technology.

Let's look at the record.

Dan Slattery: (left) used to favor wind energy. Now believes
wind energy will make your eyeballs explode
According to the official minutes for the Town Council's October 13, 2009 meeting:

"Daniel Slattery stated that as a private citizen, he favors wind energy.  He then expressed his displeasure on the Council’s actions, disapproves of the process followed and stated they have usurped the Planning Commission.  He expressed disapproval of the back room policies this ordinance came from. He feels that the Council is putting special interest politics before the rights of citizens. He urged the Council to incorporate the Planning Commission’s recommendations and not to vote on this ordinance until they have Mr. LeBlanc’s plans in hand. "

From the official minutes for the Town Council's December 14, 2009:


Clean or renewable energy is power that comes from non-polluting sources such as the sun, water, and wind. How important is it for Americans to move away from fossil fuels like gas, oil, and coal and use more clean energy?
1 – Not important – 5 Very Important

CCA Survey respondents are in favor of alternative energy.

Additionally, 89% of the CCA respondents responded that we should reduce dependency on foreign oil. When asked “If wind energy would lower the electrical bills for municipal buildings in the Town of Charlestown, would you support wind turbines?” the response was 66% Yes, 11% No, and 24%Would not make a difference for me. Two thirds are in favor of the town benefiting from wind turbines.

On the appearance of wind turbines, CCA Survey respondents said to the following two questions: “If you could see a wind turbine from the beach or the road would that concern you?” 21% Yes, 64% No, and 15% Would not make a difference. Almost two thirds are not concerned about seeing wind turbines. 

Then, when asked, “How would you describe the visual appearance of wind turbines on Charlestown's landscape,” CCA Survey respondents voted: 12% Very Attractive, 14% Attractive, 60% Neither Attractive nor Non-Attractive, and 14% Very Unattractive. The respondents are neutral. 

When asked, “Generally speaking, how do you feel about the placement of wind turbines in Charlestown if you can see them from your house?”  25% Strongly Support, 21% Support, 17% Neither Support or Object, 19% Do Not Support, and 17% Strongly Do Not Support. A close split between Supporting and Not Supporting.

Noise was addressed next, the following question, “Generally speaking, how do you feel about the placement of wind turbines in Charlestown if you CAN hear them from your house?”

Over one half of CCA Wind Power Survey respondents responded Do Not Support or Strongly Do Not Support wind turbines if they can be heard.However, when asked, “Generally speaking, how do you feel about the placement of wind turbines in Charlestown if you CANNOT hear them from your house?” 71% of Survey respondents supported wind power.

The residents’ close proximity to wind turbines mattered to them concerning noise.

When asked about the set back, 53% decided on 1.5, 11% 1.1, and 27% Would not want to be next to the wind turbine at all, and 10% said Other.Five to one prefer 1.5 to 1.1 set backs, and 25% don’t want to be next to a wind turbine.

There were questions about a developer installing two 492 foot wind turbines in Charlestown. Respondents were split on support of the overall proposal, 60% could not see the proposed site from their home, 60% had not seen a 500 foot wind turbine up close, and the respondents were split on whether they knew enough about 500 foot wind turbine towers to make good decisions for the town.

When asked, “Would you like to see Charlestown hire a well known consultant to provide guidance to the Town for wind energy, like the towns of Westerly and Jamestown have done?” 77% said Yes, 15% said No, and 8% said I don’t know. Respondents want more research and knowledge provided on wind energy before moving into industrial or community sized wind turbines.

CCA is solidly behind the proper development of wind turbines in the Town of Charlestown. [emphasis added] CCA wants to see it done correctly with the proper research, guidance from experts, ordnances that follow the lead of the Federal Government and other states especially on noise and set backs, a proper business plan so the Town of Charlestown does not have to increase taxes, full disclosure, transparency, and open discussions protecting project neighbors and town residents.

Well, that was then. This is now. Between December 2009 and November 2010, Gentz, Slattery and our shadow government, the CCA, went from solidly supporting wind energy development to the November 2010 moratorium on all wind-to-electricity devices (which will be replaced tonight, in all probability, by a total ban by ordinance). 

Let's join Tom and Dan in a rousing chorus: