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The town Planning Commission Thursday night declined to rule on a revised application for a controversial wind turbine at Stamp Farm until it knows who the manufacturer will be.
The Conservation Law Foundation and the industrial groups Toray Plastics and Polytop Corp. restate many of the arguments they made in their initial filings to the court. These are the last submissions before the Supreme Court schedules oral arguments, expected to take place in the spring. Also on Friday new state Attorney General Peter Kilmartin followed through on his pledge to end his office's role in the appeal.
Municipalities trying to determine appropriate sites for turbines must deal with issues related to noise, light flicker and setbacks from nearby properties, among others. The General Assembly asked the Division of Planning to draw up siting guidelines in 2007, a year after Portsmouth Abbey installed the first wind turbine in the state. Since then, four other large turbines have been put up - another in Portsmouth, one in Middletown and two in Warwick.
Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin has dropped the petition filed by his predecessor that asked the state Supreme Court to overturn a key approval for a wind farm planned in waters off Block Island. The move, which has been expected for months, does not end the case. Three other parties also appealed the decision in August.
On Jan. 10, the Town Council passed a six-month moratorium on new wind turbines to allow time for North Kingstown to create a new wind-energy ordinance. The move came after two proposals for large turbines stirred vigorous opposition in town. Town Manager Michael Embury said local officials were meeting to discuss the ordinance when they decided it made more sense to wait for uniform standards for wind turbines.
The turbine had been working fine after recent repairs but shut down abruptly on Sunday, Jan. 23, at 4 a.m. when a power outage hit that part of Portsmouth. After the power goes out, the turbine must be re-started manually, Assistant Town Planner Gary Crosby said, and that needs to happen within about three hours or the batteries will drain.
The construction of Deepwater Wind's Block Island offshore project later than planned as a result of a court challenge to its PPA with National Grid. The court case centres on the Rhode Island attorney general's decision in August to request the Supreme Court abolish the project's power purchase agreement with National Grid.
Previously the company has said it wants wind turbines spinning by the end of 2012 when federal tax credits worth millions of dollars are set to expire. The farm, with six to eight turbines, would sit about three miles off the coast of Block Island.
The briefs, submitted on behalf of the developer and the utility, as well as Speaker of the House Gordon Fox, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed, and the governor's office, are a response to legal challenges mounted by former Attorney General Patrick Lynch, the Conservation Law Foundation and industrial concerns Toray Plastics and Polytop Corp. Those groups alleged a number of legal and constitutional transgressions in the process that led to the wind farm contract approval.
"Wind energy was a hot topic last year as developers proposed an offshore project know as Deepwater Wind. Well this year the focus shifts here to the mainland as many local communities are dealing with the pros and cons of having turbines in their own backyards. This week the focus - and ground zero - is North Kingstown. (See video at link)
The Town Council unanimously passed a six-month moratorium on any new wind turbine proposals Monday night. The measure will not apply to two 427-foot turbines already proposed by Wind Energy Development LLC.
In one of his last acts as the state's top law enforcement officer, outgoing attorney General Patrick Lynch asked a host of state organizations to join him in challenging the law that led to the Block Island wind farm approval. Though he officially left office Friday, Lynch has pledged to continue his effort as a private citizen.
The proposed moratorium would not apply to the controversial proposal to build a 427-foot wind turbine at Stamp Farm, on Route 2. That application, now before the North Kingstown Planning Commission, was submitted under the wind energy ordinance passed by the council on Sept. 27.
Richard Pastore, chairman of the commission, said it was one of the largest turnouts he had ever seen. The turbine is one of two proposed for North Kingstown by Wind Energy Development, founded by Mark DePasquale. Most of the people in the auditorium appeared to be opposed to the Stamp Farm turbine.
While the town's wind turbine located at Portsmouth High School has been at a standstill for nearly a month now, town officials hope to have it spinning once again by the end of this week.
North Kingstown's two turbines - one approved at North Kingstown Green and the other proposed by Stamps Farm and Wind Energy Development LLC - have fueled controversy around North Kingstown, leading to the large turnout Tuesday night. Of the evening's 18 speakers, all opposed the turbines and questioned the town's newly-minted wind energy ordinance, passed on Sept. 27.
In his last official act as state attorney general, Democrat Patrick C. Lynch sent out a letter to a group of local nonprofit organizations, urging them to join with him in challenging the constitutionality of the Deepwater Wind Block Island wind-farm project, calling it "an inside deal" pushed by outgoing Governor Carcieri and embraced by the General Assembly.
For the final installment of "The Tale of Two Turbines," NK Patch will address the residents' concerns, the town's ordinance and how others across the state are tackling the issue.
After researching wind turbines and their impacts on the Internet, Zucchi, Wilson and about 20 others began canvassing the neighborhood to spread the word and get feedback. "Virtually everyone I talked to didn't know about it or heard through word of mouth," said Wilson. "The thing that's truly upsetting is that this process has been going on for six months and really no one in the neighborhood knew."
While some residents welcome an approved 427-footer turbine, others oppose plans for more wind energy. ...It's been the talk around town for the past month and, on Jan. 4, it'll get its well-deserved attention as the North Kingstown Planning Commission holds its first meeting of the new year on the subject: wind turbines.