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2/6/2014 6:00:00 PM
Bristol Offshore-Wind Survey Shows Little Public Support

By J.W. Oliver

The results of a Bristol Wind Power Advisory Committee survey about the Maine Aqua Ventus I offshore-wind project show little public support for the project.

The small number of responses to the online survey, however, at about 5 percent of the population of the town, are not enough to determine the position of the town, according to the leader of the committee.

The survey measures support on a scale of one to five from "do not support" to "fully support," and 102 of the 141 responses, 72 percent, are either a one or a two on the scale. Eighty-six of those 102 are a one.

Only 27 respondents, 19 percent, were fours or fives, with 17, or 12 percent, in the "fully support" category. Twelve respondents, 9 percent, answered a neutral three.

The survey also asks respondents whether they feel they have enough information about the project "to decide if it is right for Bristol." Ninety-five of 139 respondents, 68 percent, feel they do.

The point of the survey is to evaluate "how the town, as a whole, feels about this project," Bristol Wind Power Advisory Committee Chairwoman Andrea Cox told the Bristol Board of Selectmen Jan. 29.

Bristol Wind Power Advisory Committee member John Stolecki (far right) speaks during a meeting at the New Harbor fire station Jan. 28. The results of the committee's survey about the Maine Aqua Ventus I offshore-wind project show little public support for the project. (Photo courtesy Sherrie Tucker, http://www.sherrietucker.com)
Bristol Wind Power Advisory Committee member John Stolecki (far right) speaks during a meeting at the New Harbor fire station Jan. 28. The results of the committee's survey about the Maine Aqua Ventus I offshore-wind project show little public support for the project. (Photo courtesy Sherrie Tucker, http://www.sherrietucker.com)
 
"We were hoping we would get enough of a response from the website to understand that, and I just don't think we have or we're going to be able to, just by lack of the number of responses," Cox said.

Cox and the selectmen discussed possible alternatives, such as a survey by mail or a non-binding vote at annual town meeting.

"Regardless of how people feel, there's no real legal way to stop it anyway, so we're not sure the importance of that and what we would do with that information once we had it," Cox said.

Selectman Paul Yates advocated for the vote, which would probably attract people to town meeting. "The discussion would educate a lot of people who don't go online," Yates said.

The committee encourages residents to continue to take the survey, available here.

The survey allows respondents to ask questions, and the Bristol Matters website has answers from the committee to many of those questions.

The committee encourages previous respondents to take the survey a second time after review of this information. The committee can separate the new results.

"As people learn more about the project, their questions and comments will likely change - and still be very important to us," Cox said.

The Bristol Wind Power Advisory Committee will meet next at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 12 at the New Harbor fire station.





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