The Town Council Monday authorized the expansion of its new Wind Energy Committee from five to seven members because of the availability and willingness of at least 11 specially qualified residents to serve, and because of the growing interest in wind energy.
The four councilors attending the meeting agreed to the expansion even though Council President David Long and Councilman William Kelly spoke briefly about a generic preference for smaller committees. Council Vice President Julio DiGiando and Councilman Michael Schnack endorsed the expansion without caveat. Councilwoman Barbara Szepatowski was absent.
Next Monday, Dec. 18, is the deadline for applications for the new committee. No members have yet been named. The appointment process allows the council to interview each applicant briefly before a regularly scheduled council meeting. The committee will include Town Planner Lisa Bryer and Public Works Director Steven Goslee as staff liaisons. Appointments for two year terms are expected in late February or early March.
Town Administrator Bruce Keiser noted that the town was represented at a conference about wind energy in Rhode Island on Dec. 9 in Bristol, and a report was expected to be available soon.
Last week, enewable-energy groups from throughout Rhode Island met by invitation only to discuss wind energy. The meeting was hosted by Roger Williams University, where Lefteris Pavlides, a leading wind energy promoter in Rhode Island, is a professor of architecture.
Several communities are considering wind-energy options. They include Bristol, Portsmouth, Warren, South Kingstown, and Westerly. Interest in Jamestown and elsewhere has increased greatly since Portsmouth Abbey recently installed the first large wind turbine in Rhode Island.
The goal of the conference was to form a clearinghouse for information and guidelines about building turbines. Goals for the alliance would be to collect data about municipal energy needs and determine how wind energy might be used. The work is expected to take about a year.
In October, the Jamestown Town Council ratified a proposal made independently by two groups of residents to explore wind-energy options for municipal needs, with a possible savings of $200,000 a year in electricity costs for the island.
Council President Long called the concept “an incredible idea on so many levels. I’ll be so proud of Jamestown if we do it.”
Council Vice President DiGiando said, “This is an opportunity to provide the town with a 21st-century infrastructure.” He noted that wind energy ties in with general town goals of “going green” in terms of money savings and environmentally creative practices.
Spurring Jamestown’s look at wind energy in October were Robert Bowen and William “Bucky” Brennan.
Bowen presented the town with a report about the technology, with options and possibilities. The report focuses on an installation of possibly only one device to create energy mainly for municipal buildings.
Brennan reported to develop data for harnessing wind energy for wider uses, possibly on a statewide basis. He talked about the installation of two or more devices.
State grants of up to $25,000 and requiring a local contribution of $5,000 are available to develop wind-power studies or operations. Possible sites already being considered are town-owned parcels at Taylor Point and Fort Getty.
By Dotti Farrington
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