General and Rhode Island
Gov. John Baldacci reminded the crowd of several dozen stakeholders that Maine was one of the most oil-dependent states, using fossil fuels for 80 percent to 86 percent of its overall energy needs. The new laws, he said, would help drive in-state renewable energy production, keeping money here as well as helping restore the economy.
With its wind turbine supplier bankrupt, Portsmouth is looking for a new company to provide the service it had believed was covered under the equipment's original warranty.
After hearing that the proposed site of a town wind turbine has been shifted away from classrooms at the high school, the School Committee last night unanimously endorsed the plan.
It now goes to the May 28 Financial Town Meeting, where voters will have to decide whether to finance the $2.4-million project with the help of a $2.1-million no-interest federal loan.
The committee's approval didn't come without reservations.
No wind measurements have been taken at the site, and committee member Jim Hasenfus warned that Barrington is a "marginal wind area."
The Barrington Town Council made it official Monday night: The wind turbine project proposed for Legion Way is off the table. ...At the meeting on Monday night, council member Kate Weymouth motioned to accept a recommendation from the Committee for Renewable Energy for Barrington to not move forward with construction of a turbine at Legion Way, "at this time."
The battle to block a wind turbine on town-owned land in hopes of saving on Barrington's electric bill has gone multimedia.
Opponents have begun circulating a professional-quality 16-minute video blasting the $2.4-million proposal, accusing the town of rushing into the project without fully assessing the costs and benefits. It also asserts that the spinning blades, high on a peninsula at Brickyard Pond near the East Bay Bike Path, will generate too much noise for neighbors and kill birds.
The top executive of a Warren-based wind-turbine blade maker said the decision to build a new manufacturing facility in Iowa, rather than in Rhode Island, was based on that state's proximity to the market in which the blades will be used.
The blades made by TPI Composites are typically 35 meters to 40 meters long, and can weigh 10,000 to 20,000 pounds each, said Steven C. Lockard, chief executive officer of the company.
Transportation costs for these blades, which are typically shipped by truck, can run into the "tens of thousands" of dollars, he said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
"In this case, there really wasn't an option for this particular factory to be located in Rhode Island," he said.
...Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri's pledge nearly two years ago to bring wind power to a state where there is just one operating wind turbine. His goal was to get 15% of the state's electrical power from wind by 2011 - which would require about 100 turbines.
Several major challenges now stand in the way of the small state's big plans.
Among them: No one has decided where to put a wind farm, it's not clear how the project will be paid for, and public opposition - a major wild card - is unknown, according to Carcieri's top energy adviser, Andrew Dzykewicz. ...No other state has built an offshore wind farm, forcing Rhode Island's government to invent the process nearly from scratch. One of the state's main environmental regulatory bodies, the Coastal Resources Management Council, has not even decided what it requires from prospective wind power developers.
Issues are prompting the General Assembly to consider major changes in the way the controversial agency operates and who actually holds the decision-making power. ...That has put it in the middle of angry battles over Newport condominiums, million-dollar "cottages" near pristine beaches and the successful, but long-delayed, $43-million Providence River dredging project. Now, it is managing a $10-million study that is a prelude to a planned $1.5-billion wind farm off Block Island.
[H]igh electricity prices, along with a conservation ethos that has led to the protection of more than 40 percent of the island in reserves and land trusts, have prompted many Block Islanders to embrace the offshore wind project.
"A lot of the residents recognize the need for wind power," said Nancy Dodge, town manager for New Shoreham, the municipality that encompasses the island. "The major concern is that anything we have to look at, we share in, so we don't bear the brunt visually without getting the benefits."
The company is in the final stages of completing permits for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council. The Army Corps permits are needed for any project that involves construction in navigable waters. The state permit is for leasing the submerged state lands.
Portsmouth's turbine broke again last week and this time it could be shut down for awhile. ...The mechanism is located in the turbine's nacelle, and while he said he is not clear on its purpose, "I am told that it is important, that it is broken and that we need to get a new one."