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Wind power initiative welcome, but town should press on anyway

Block Island Times|January 19, 2009
Rhode IslandEnergy Policy

Gov. Donald Carcieri seems determined to jump-start offshore wind power development. Not waiting for state experts and scientists to complete the process of picking the best ocean sites for turbines, he has had his Energy Office contract for the construction of a small number of wind turbines off Block Island. The main customers, it seems, will be island residents, who certainly appreciate the governor's interest in serving our needs. But still, it's fair to wonder if this contract is real business or just cheerleading?


Gov. Donald Carcieri seems determined to jump-start offshore wind power development. Not waiting for state experts and scientists to complete the process of picking the best ocean sites for turbines, he has had his Energy Office contract for the construction of a small number of wind turbines off Block Island.

The main customers, it seems, will be island residents, who certainly appreciate the governor's interest in serving our needs. But still, it's fair to wonder if this contract is real business or just cheerleading?

The town's Electric Utility Task Group, for one, is a bit skeptical. So it will press ahead with plans for on-island power generation. Whatever alternate energy we can develop, it will be useful whether the governor's contract ever produces power or not.

It will be recalled that only last August, Coastal Resources Management Council and University of Rhode Island personnel began to gather data and consider regulations for a Special Area Management Plan that would identify the best sites for ... more [truncated due to possible copyright]

     

Gov. Donald Carcieri seems determined to jump-start offshore wind power development. Not waiting for state experts and scientists to complete the process of picking the best ocean sites for turbines, he has had his Energy Office contract for the construction of a small number of wind turbines off Block Island.

The main customers, it seems, will be island residents, who certainly appreciate the governor's interest in serving our needs. But still, it's fair to wonder if this contract is real business or just cheerleading?

The town's Electric Utility Task Group, for one, is a bit skeptical. So it will press ahead with plans for on-island power generation. Whatever alternate energy we can develop, it will be useful whether the governor's contract ever produces power or not.

It will be recalled that only last August, Coastal Resources Management Council and University of Rhode Island personnel began to gather data and consider regulations for a Special Area Management Plan that would identify the best sites for offshore wind power.

Officials outlined an ambitious list of information they need: on wind, weather and wave action, probably necessitating a meteorological tower; on seabed conditions, on fishing and on boating activity, both commercial and recreational. The investigation would take two years, they said, but the schedule now says it will be done next February.

Without waiting for that crucial information, however, the governor and Deepwater Wind have agreed that Deepwater will, by 2012, place four to eight towers in state waters within three miles of the south shore of Block Island. Of greatest interest to us, of course, is the provision that Deepwater and the state Energy Office will "cooperate with and assist in arranging transmission from Block Island to the mainland" and vice versa.

It will take a lot of difficult economic and legal decisions to determine what that means, but it's nice to be in the bull's eye of the contract.

This project, it should be pointed out, is just sort of a trial run for the big wind farm that Deepwater and the state envision in deeper waters. Those are federal waters and the federal bureaucracy would become involved.

Meanwhile, the town's task force is thinking small and incrementally. Disappointed by the apparent rejection of a request to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for funds for a large wind turbine and solar power panels on municipal buildings, it will continue to seek state and federal assistance to accomplish those goals. It will continue to research the issues of how such facilities should be owned and managed.

These efforts are necessary for the short term and also for the long term. If the Deepwater project succeeds and a cable reaches the mainland, island-generated alternative energy will have a sure market, on-island in the summer, mainland in the winter.

So thanks for the promising state initiative, but meanwhile we would do well to maintain the island tradition of self-sufficiency.

Content truncated due to possible copyright. Use source link for full article.


Source:http://www.blockislandtimes.c…

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