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Monday, November 28, 2016

He likes coal

By Bob Plain in Rhode Island’s Future

Image result for Trump & wind energy

Donald Trump isn’t enamored with one of the brightest sectors of the Ocean State economy: offshore wind. 

Earlier this week he urged British leaders “to oppose the kind of offshore wind farms that Mr. Trump believes will mar the pristine view from one of his two Scottish golf courses,” according to a New York Times story.

Trump is said to be bearish on offshore wind because turbines off the coast of Scotland would be seen from two golf courses he owns there. 

He offered a different explanation in an interview with Times reporters and editors on November 22:

First of all, we don’t make the windmills in the United States. They’re made in Germany and Japan. They’re made out of massive amounts of steel, which goes into the atmosphere, whether it’s in our country or not, it goes into the atmosphere. The windmills kill birds and the windmills need massive subsidies. In other words, we’re subsidizing wind mills all over this country. I mean, for the most part they don’t work. I don’t think they work at all without subsidy, and that bothers me, and they kill all the birds. You go to a windmill, you know in California they have the, what is it? The golden eagle? And they’re like, if you shoot a golden eagle, they go to jail for five years and yet they kill them by, they actually have to get permits that they’re only allowed to kill 30 or something in one year. The windmills are devastating to the bird population, O.K. With that being said, there’s a place for them. But they do need subsidy. So, if I talk negatively. I’ve been saying the same thing for years about you know, the wind industry. I wouldn’t want to subsidize it. Some environmentalists agree with me very much because of all of the things I just said, including the birds, and some don’t.
It’s unclear how this could affect Rhode Island-based Deepwater Wind, which built the nation’s first offshore wind farm earlier this year and has big expansion plans in the works. A spokesperson for Deepwater Wind, Meaghan Whims of Duffy Shanley, declined to comment on the president-elect’s position. Company CEO Jeff Grybowski could not immediately be reached for comment.

Deepwater Wind runs 5 turbines off the southeast coast of Block Island that generate 30 megawatts of power. In August, Grybowski told RI Future Deepwater Wind leased additional acreage southeast of Block Island that could support 200 turbines and generate 1,000 megawatts of power.

“There’s the capacity for 5,000 megawatts of offshore wind out there,” Grybowski told RI Future. “That’s just in the area that’s been identified in the near term, what could be developed in the next decade or so. That’s certainly not the limit of what we can do.”

But while Grybowski predicted Rhode Island would become an energy exporter thanks to offshore wind, who knows how important the views from his Scottish golf courses are to the new president of the United States.

Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.