GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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June 4, 2009

A harborside turbine? Whole Foods 'ecoczar' outlines Gloucester wind energy plans

Community support will determine whether supermarket chain Whole Foods Market commits this summer to building a harborfront wind turbine to power its Parker Street fish processing plant, the company's regional "ecoczar" says.

Introducing the windmill project publicly in Gloucester for the first time Tuesday, Whole Foods' Lee Kane confirmed that the company wants to erect a $2 million, 240-foot windmill at its Pigeon Cove Plant at the base of the Jodrey State Fish Pier, but is weighing public opinion as well as technical feasibility before launching a formal application.

"In order for it to be feasible for Whole Foods, it will have to be feasible for the community," Kane, whose titles includes "regional forager" as well as "ecoczar," said in a phone interview yesterday. "We are not going to get in what is not good for Gloucester."

But, he added, "if we are going to do a wind project anywhere, it would be here."

In their first round of questions to Whole Foods, city councilors, who would have ultimate say on a windmill, reserved judgment on the project, but many said they wanted the project's financial benefits to reach local fishermen.

"I don't want to see the harbor filled with windmills," said Ward 2 Councilor John "Gus" Foote, a perennial advocate for fishermen. "I am not going to commit either way. A lot of promises are made on a lot of things. I want to make sure Gloucester fishermen are going to benefit."

Councilor Sefatia Romeo Theken said she was concerned with the potential effect on residents of "flicker" from the shadows of the turbine's spinning blades in the early morning and evening hours.

Ward 3 Councilor Steve Curcuru said the fact that Whole Foods is leasing the Parker Street property it would build on, instead of buying it, raised concerns about its long-term commitment to a large piece of equipment such as a windmill.

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