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Friday, August 24, 2012

Rhode Island wind energy round-up

By TIM FAULKNER/ News staff
The following is an update on various renewable energy projects across Rhode Island:
The Jamestown Town Council voted 4-1 Monday night to suspend all work on its proposed wind turbine. The vote was held to determine if an additional $45,000 of grant money should be spent to fund final studies of a turbine at Taylor Point, near the Newport Bridge.

Town Council member Robert Bowen was the dissenting vote. "I was the lone vote to continue with the data gathering so we could make an informed decision," he said.
During the past five years, the town has received $140,000 from the state Renewable Energy Fund and invested $60,000 of its own money to find a location, study wind speed and pay for feasibility studies. The Federal Aviation Administration has approved the height of the turbine. In 2010, residents passed a $6.5 million bond referendum to fund the project.
The $45,000 grant would have funded the cost of calculating final construction of various turbine designs. The Planning Committee was reviewing a 2-megwatt, 400-foot-high turbine. Bowen said the recent breakdown of the Portsmouth High School turbine gave opponents cause to defeat the project.
“What's happening now is the fear factor around the state that turbines aren’t good investments, which is too bad,” Bowen said.
Portsmouth bought its turbine from a new and unproven manufacturer, a mistake, Bowen insisted, that Jamestown would not repeat.
As a sign of discontent for large wind turbines, Town Administrator Diane Mederos pulled the town's representatives from attending meetings of the East Bay Energy Consortium. The regional renewable energy collaborative is proposing a multi-turbine project in Tiverton.
At its Aug. 14 meeting, the Town Council elected to postpone a decision on repairing the Portsmouth High School turbine until its Aug. 27 meeting. Cost estimates are upward of $400,000 to replace the damaged gearbox. The turbine has been idle since June 15.
The three turbines erected in February at the Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC) treatment facility on the city's waterfront won't be operational until late September at the earliest, according to National Grid. Incomplete infrastucture work is delaying the project.
Central Landfill
The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation's board of commissioners has approved a $37,500 grant from the state Renewable Energy Fund to commence a $112,000 study for a 35-kilowatt solar array atop one of the capped landfills. The solar field would cover 2 acres of a 20-acre site. The electricity from the solar field would power pump stations.
The second of two public workshops to discuss draft documents for statewide renewable energy siting standards will be held Wednesday, Aug. 22, at the University of Rhode Island's Corless Auditorium on the Bay Campus in Narragansett from 6-8 p.m. View and comment on the draft report here. The public comment period closes at 5 p.m. Aug. 31.