WEST WARWICK, R.I. — With three new 1.5-megawatt wind turbines to bolster his argument, Ward 3 Councilman Edward Giroux declared Friday that his town is "the greenest municipality in the state right now."
"It’s very exciting what we are doing; the windmills [are] just crazy," he said.
The last of three wind turbines recently purchased by the Town of West Warwick was installed Friday morning in rural Coventry. The towers, which cost $6 million each, are expected to save between $25 million to $40 million in utility costs over the next 20 years, Town Manager Frederick Presley said.
After solar panels are installed on the roofs of the town's ice rink and field house, the town’s public buildings — including its schools, department of public works, town hall, senior center and wastewater treatment facility — will get all their energy from renewable sources.
"We’re going to be the first town [in Rhode Island] to be able to say that — that all our power is renewable," Presley said.
The town used bond anticipation notes to purchase the turbines. The hope is to issue a bond through the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, and one through the town. The third bond could be issued by the town or by the bank, Presley said.
Efforts to expand renewable energy use began about two years ago in hopes of decreasing or at least stabilizing the town's energy costs, which Presley said increase about 4 to 6 percent a year.
Last year, more than 70 percent of local voters approved the purchase of the wind turbines from Wind Energy Development LLC.
The turbines, located off Victory Highway in western Coventry, are on land leased for $50,000 a year for 20 years, with an option to extend the term, Presley said.
Wind Energy is erecting a total of 10 turbines in the area. Aside from West Warwick's three, four turbines are going to the Rhode Island Renewable Energy Growth Program. The Narragansett Bay Commission is negotiating for the remaining three, said Michelle Carpenter, chief operating officer for Wind Energy.
The town used four grants, two each from RI Commerce and the state’s Office of Energy Resources, totaling just under $800,000 for the solar panels. Solar energy company NexAmp will own the panels, and the town will purchase the energy at a discounted rate, Presley said.
The town is also planning to power its streetlights with LEDs, Giroux said. It's looking to purchase the light fixtures from National Grid.
The city pays approximately $360,000 a year to light the streets, and the LEDs are expected to save the town about $100,000 a year.