Library from Rhode Island
The proposed wind turbine at Taylor Point continued to be an issue of contention for Jamestown residents who attended Monday's Town Council meeting. More than 10 individuals, including proponents, opponents and consultants, gave their opinions on the proposed project.
Councilor Ed Silveria said although he originally supported the proposal to allow wind turbines, he now realizes it's just a business that negatively impacts Middletown residents. "There is no reason that the rest of us should suffer," said Silveria. "Now we realize what's happened in Portsmouth. It doesn't make sense."
NARRAGANSETT - The U. S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has released an assessment of the environmental impacts of wind farms in federal waters off Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and could give notice as early as next month that it is auctioning off leases.
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".
For three years, the $3-million windmill fulfilled that promise, making the town about $400,000 after maintenance and debt payments. ...the turbine's gearbox needs to be replaced for at least $460,000 -- completely erasing those three years of income.
At Monday night's meeting, the town council was informed that the gearbox in the 1.5 megawatt turbine has failed. Though the reason for the failure is unknown, oil samples show metal shavings inside the gearbox filter. The turbine has been shut down since June 18. Replacing the gearbox could cost about $400,000.
"My concern is that with all this about 38 Studios' [sudden bankruptcy], Deepwater has said that there is no tax money at risk [in its case], which is true," he said. "A lot of people are concerned about this; ...we're concerned about the cost of electricity and the impact it will have on businesses."
The council is expected to vote on the proposed agreement with WED Westerly LLC, an affiliate of Wind Energy Development of North Kingstown, during a special meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. The company has said that it would erect two 2-megawatt, 420-foot turbines, capable of meeting the electricity needs of the town's municipal buildings, excluding schools.
The Deepwater project does raise broader policy questions about the state's role in promoting renewable energy development, questions that go beyond any single project. The General Assembly explicitly made it state policy to push clean power with the 2004 passage of a renewable energy portfolio standard, and doubled-down in 2009 and 2010 by passing a long-term contracting bill that benefited Deepwater.
In the days leading up to Memorial Day weekend, Block Island was being transformed from a quiet, sparsely populated sanctuary of about 750 year-round residents to a summer playground that swells with up to 25,000 people daily, as the ferries from Point Judith double their daily runs and the New London high-speed ferry begins its season.
After an unusually barbed exchange between councilors, they voted unanimously May 14 to authorize Town Manager Steven Hartford to negotiate an agreement with the firm but to bring the agreement back to the Council before signing it. Plans call for Wind Energy Development to invest $10 million in the project. The company has promised to sell electricity, generated by the turbines, to the town.
By unanimous vote, the town council sent a message Monday to the General Assembly that it is not happy with legislation creating a nine-member East Bay Energy Consortium (EBEC) that would build a wind farm on vacant land on and near the town's Industrial Park and along Route 24 toward Fall River.
Plunkett said consortium has no plans to take over any privately owned property. Due to safety concerns, they would not locate the turbines near residential properties. In addition, a project of this nature is limited to those areas where there is sufficient wind power.
Town officials are working to undercover what broke last week on the Portsmouth wind turbine generator. The turbine, located at Portsmouth High School, stopped spinning last week after an error message appeared.
The prospect "makes me very uneasy," councilor Scott Lial said Tuesday. "There's no guarantee it's not going to be used in a dangerous fashion." Warren and Barrington Rep. Jan Malik has pulled his support from the current legislation, saying that while the idea of EBEC is good, the eminent domain mechanism "is not good for Barrington or Warren."
Deepwater Wind has officially submitted plans for a cable connecting Block Island and the mainland to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), project manager Bryan Wilson reported to the town's Electric Utility Task Group Monday.
Gentz said that he was "shocked" when he found out about the correspondence between DiLibero and LaForest, and that the council had not been made aware of it. He said he now doubts that wind turbines or athletic lights will be installed at the park. "There's very few places in town for a municipal turbine," Gentz said. "The lighting is off the table. It's dead, and the turbines are dead."
"I think it is extremely premature to sign or cosign anything. For me, I need a lot more specifics about what that compensation, or other form of consideration, would be for us to put our name remotely close to this," said Council President Glenna Hagopian. "I want to see what you are bringing to the table before we move forward."
Global wind farm developer Windlab's general manager, Nathan Steggel, said the government's planning laws had gone too far and the company was moving staff to its Canberra head office. The new area under consideration “now includes more than 164,000 acres of federal water southwest of Nomans Land between Martha's Vineyard and Block Island.” While many state officials from Rhode Island and Massachusetts praised the revised plan, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) is questioning whether the area still comes too close to what the tribe has considered sacred views for centuries.
The company is at the start of its permitting process. Already submitted are applications to New Shoreham Planning and Zoning Boards for a substation at Block Island Power Company and buried transmission lines from BIPCo to Town Beach, where the submarine cable will make landfall.