Essentially, anyone with a farm will be entitled to install wind turbines, with virtually no setback, and this will pre-empt any local zoning. So beautiful vistas in places like Portsmouth and Jamestown will be up for grabs, and there will be no consideration of the effect on the historic beauty of the area or impact on people’s real estate use or resale values.
The company that installed the turbine, AAER of Canada, went bankrupt a year after installation, and left Portsmouth with no warranty. Even worse, the chief executive of the company hired to oversee maintenance of the turbine stated that gearbox failures occur in "10 percent of turbines nationwide".
Because wind power drains money from our economy, it doesn't, and won't in the future, create jobs. It will actually cost jobs. The money, much of which will go overseas, will no longer be available to spend on food, clothing, shelter and medical care in Rhode Island.
Where does the money go?
So how ironic would it be if Massachusetts consumers end up paying higher electric rates because of the Cape Wind project, but Rhode Island gets the lion's share of the jobs? ...There are already a host of reasons to dislike this project - the location, the financing, the cost to consumers. Now we might get one more.
But the way a bill was written for Deepwater Wind in the General Assembly lacked the kind of transparency and concern for oversight that the public expects. (The bill did get better, with the role of the Public Utilities Commission apparently being properly restored, among other improvements.)
The idea that it should start with an expensive eight-turbine "demonstration project" never made that much sense to us.
The Block Island wind farm has new life. Both houses of the General Assembly passed a law this week that call for the Public Utilities Commission to revisit a modified power agreement between Deepwater Wind and National Grid.
Under the guise of supporting renewable-energy projects, a pair of bills designed to remove the Public Utilities Commission from its traditional role of regulating the acquisition and distribution of electricity to citizens have been racing through the Rhode Island General Assembly.
One has already passed and was signed by the governor within four weeks of its introduction.
The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission made a unanimous decision to deny the contract between Deepwater Wind and National Grid for the Block Island wind-farm project because it costs too much.
Under the proposal, all Rhode Island electricity ratepayers would have been required to pay up to $400 million in over-market costs during the next 20-year life of the contract, in a windfall deal that promised Deepwater investors a 98 percent return. And, the cost of the cable from the wind farm to the mainland was excluded!
The PUC determined that the cost, which would ultimately be passed on to consumers, was not "commercially reasonable." Environmentalists countered that the commission, whose chairman has suggested that he is among those who "don't accept climate change," failed to consider the environmental benefits and energy independence the wind farms promise.
Deepwater CEO William M. Moore issued a statement saying he was "extremely disappointed" in the commission's decision.
Over the past few days, there have been two unrelated but promising developments, both in New England, in the debate over wind power. The first was a finding by the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation that a wind project slated for construction in Massachusetts coastal waters would inflict "pervasive" and "destructive" harm on the seabed and on neighboring historic properties. The second was a decision by the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission prohibiting the purchase of power from eight wind turbines also to be situated in coastal waters.
What happened this week in Rhode Island to a proposed offshore wind project has immediately endangered one project and makes one wonder what the future impacts are on other projects that have to contend with federal permits and unhappy neighbors. Add state regulators to the list of naysayers if they deem that prices negotiated in the power purchase agreement (PPA) between the project developer and the utility are too high.
In conclusion, if the WTG doesn't pay for itself, real costs to taxpayers are hidden and simultaneously, the town still buys the same amount of carbon electricity that allegedly poisoned children in its making at a higher price, how is this good for Jamestown? Doing something, no matter what the cost, based upon good intentions is not the model for best practices even in good economic times.
The issue is whether the price that National Grid, the mainland distributor of electricity, has agreed to pay Deepwater Wind for the power generated by eight turbines southeast of the island is "commercially reasonable." Reasonable, that is, for electricity customers in the rest of Rhode Island. That issue will come to a head at hearings in March. ...It all depends on two negotiations, not yet begun.
Now that the Town Council has made a wind power turbine on the transfer station property possible, is it advisable? A number of serious concerns were raised during the rezoning struggle that need to be answered.
As First Warden Kim Gaffett kept saying, it was premature to introduce an extended critique of windmills into the rezoning proceedings, but the time to take up the issues has arrived.
I noticed the other week that Deepwater Wind is looking to renegotiate its contract to supply power from its proposed phase one offshore-wind project. As a veteran developer of wind projects and one who worked on an alternative bid to the Deepwater project, all I want to say is I told you so.
Wind turbines have no place in Jamestown. They will change the character of this lovely place. Jamestown has managed to avoid property use that would damage our quality of life and even spent money to promote land conservation to preserve our island's beauty forever. We should not let wind turbines onto our island in a Trojan horse that looks like it would provide significant amounts of electricity and save us a great deal of money.
I just read the proposal in front of the Public Utilities Commission. Deepwater's "cheap" electricity is going to cost "the grid" 30 cents per kilowatt-hour to start and go to 56 cents. I don't know what this will translate to on a Block Island Power Company bill, but if you include BIPCo's fee, plus a transmission fee, plus the cost of the $50 million dollar cable to support the 30-megawatt power plant, I'm willing to bet none of us are going to like it.
Readers of The Journal's Oct. 21 front-page article "Environmentalists decry Black Pt. turbine plan" might be interested in hearing what these environmentalists really asked of Governor Carcieri. Our letter to the governor expressed concern about siting wind turbines and other renewable-energy projects on publicly owned lands absent a transparent public process for determining if and when it is appropriate to do so.
Is it right for the Town Council of New Shoreham to change the terms of a gift of land to the town, 31 years after the gift was made? This is the thrust of the public hearing on October 5, in reference to the windmill project proposed for the Transfer Station site. ...Numerous groups have bonded together to preserve more that 40 percent of this island. For those of you who enjoy these preserved areas, please realize that this kind of "spot zoning" sets a precedent that can put all of these, now public, areas in great danger. For those of you who may be thinking of donating land or are working toward the preservation and conservation of an area for a specific use - think hard - your dreams are in danger!