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Energy plan talks zoning changes for residential turbines

The Island Energy Plan Committee was unable to produce a quorum at its Wednesday meeting. Nevertheless, members present informally discussed the development of the plan's first draft, which they hope to have completed by November.

The plan itself will be adopted before knowing definitively whether the Deepwater Wind Block Island demonstration offshore wind farm project would come to fruition.

Committee members said that the decision on that project could greatly alter the plan; however, since it may take years to resolve, the committee would nevertheless push ahead with its objectives.

One implementation idea was to revisit the zoning ordinance language regarding residential wind turbines. The current language is very restrictive, requires large set backs and limits tower height. Committee member Barbara MacMullan said that the tower height restriction was especially problematic.

Two of the major concerns with wind turbines for neighboring properties are noise and flicker, both of which are reduced by increasing the tower height, she said. Turbines are also much more productive at higher elevations.

Electric Utility Task Group member Everett Shorey also suggested a goal of having the Block Island Power... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The Island Energy Plan Committee was unable to produce a quorum at its Wednesday meeting. Nevertheless, members present informally discussed the development of the plan's first draft, which they hope to have completed by November.

The plan itself will be adopted before knowing definitively whether the Deepwater Wind Block Island demonstration offshore wind farm project would come to fruition.

Committee members said that the decision on that project could greatly alter the plan; however, since it may take years to resolve, the committee would nevertheless push ahead with its objectives.

One implementation idea was to revisit the zoning ordinance language regarding residential wind turbines. The current language is very restrictive, requires large set backs and limits tower height. Committee member Barbara MacMullan said that the tower height restriction was especially problematic.

Two of the major concerns with wind turbines for neighboring properties are noise and flicker, both of which are reduced by increasing the tower height, she said. Turbines are also much more productive at higher elevations.

Electric Utility Task Group member Everett Shorey also suggested a goal of having the Block Island Power Company revise its rate structure. Committee Chair Peter Baute said that BIPCo CEO Cliff McGinnes Sr. said at a recent Town Council meeting that BIPCo would not likely revisit its rate structure until a cable to the mainland was installed.

The committee will also list as a "consideration" purchasing BIPCo to be run as a non-profit, although this won't be laid out as a specific goal in the plan.

Committee member John Warfel finished a write-up of the history of solar power on Block Island. He also discussed ways to encourage the use of photovoltaic systems on the island. Some of his ideas included additional tax breaks and incentives and a community loan program to help fund solar generator installations.

The committee asked Warfel to include an estimation of the cost and potential for solar power on the island. Warfel said that he thought up to half of the island's energy needs could be managed with solar power.

The committee's newest member, Water Company Superintendent Dave Simmons, brought up the use of bio-fuel on the island. Local fishing boats currently use bio-diesel derived from cooking oil, and the Highview Hotel is heated in the same manner. Committee member Kevin Hoyt did not attend the meeting as he was on the mainland attending a conference on bio-fuels. He will provide a write-up for the plan following the conference; the committee asked Simmons to help provide background of the island's bio-fuel use for that section.

Another idea was incentives for building houses to be more energy efficient. While the town cannot enforce building codes stricter than the state codes, it could develop incentives.

The three general goals of the plan are stated as maximizing the use of renewable energy, exploring new sources of renewable energy and establishing a progressive energy policy on the island.


Source: http://blockislandtimes.com...

SEP 13 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/28059-energy-plan-talks-zoning-changes-for-residential-turbines
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