Council will hold public workshop on Oct. 21
Five months ago Ron Russo said he was concerned that the town was rushing through the approval process for installing a wind turbine generator.
While it now appears the council will be spending more time studying the issue, Mr. Russo has shifted his focus and is worried that officials may be making a mistake with the vendor they’ve chosen to build the turbine and the company that manufactures the unit. He also re-examined the bond resolution taxpayers voted on at the financial town meeting in May and said there’s a clear problem with the language.
“I got a hold of a copy of the resolution,” Mr. Russo said, “and it only pertains to the Barrington High School site. The money is specific to the high school.”
Initially, officials proposed the wind turbine for the high school location. They have since selected Legion Way as their optimal spot, all but eliminating the high school location because of set-back concerns. Mr. Russo pointed to a copy of the resolution from the May financial town meeting.
It reads: “Appropriating an amount not to exceed $2,400,000 to finance a wind turbine at the Barrington High School, including but not limited to, costs of acquisition, site preparation and installation and all other costs incidental or related thereto ...”
Mr. Russo said the final recommendation from the Committee for Renewable Energy for Barrington removed the high school site from consideration. In fact, the first page of the report, under “Site Selection,” states that “The High School is not an appropriate location for this project due to a lack of available setbacks and the value of the property.”
“I was just thinking about the financial town meeting and it came to me,” he said. “It was a flash of genius.”
Barrington Town Council President Jeff Brenner said it was a simple oversight — he said Mr. Russo was looking at a copy of the minutes from the May financial town meeting. He said the warrant itself lists “all town property.” Barrington Town Manager Peter DeAngelis verified that statement.
Mr. Russo attended the Oct. 6 council meeting and offered comments regarding the proposed wind turbine generator. He later compiled a packet with detailed information questioning the company recommended for the installation of the wind turbine (Lumus Construction, Inc.), and the manufacturer (Elecon).
“I think it was kind of embarrassing for the council. I was asking these questions and they (CREB) didn’t know the answers,” Mr. Russo said. “They’re supposed to have the answers.”
Mr. Russo said he had concerns about using a contractor that “never supplied and has never constructed this model turbine.” He also said Elecon has not produced wind turbine generators for the last six years, according to information he researched. Mr. Russo also produced documents that showed how Elecon wind turbines fared in cyclones — 14 out of 14 tested were destroyed, while other companies’ turbines performed better.
“Listen, in these trying economic times you don’t spend taxpayers’ money without having all the data,” Mr. Russo said. “The town hasn’t even done wind studies. There’s no hard data.”
Mr. Russo also questioned the efficiency of the turbine model being recommended by CREB. The committee’s report included a 600 kilowatt wind turbine generator that reportedly works most efficiently when winds are between 20 and 25 miles per hour. Projections from wind map data show that Legion Way — the proposed site for the turbine — will likely see winds averaging 13.4 mph. Mr. Russo said that means the Elecon turbine will be functioning at around 17 percent efficiency.
The turbine’s cut-in speed, he said, is around 8 mph. Mr. Russo added that other turbine models would be better suited for Barrington’s proposed location.