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Citizen panel to study wind power  

Following in the paths of Portsmouth and Bristol, Barrington officials will investigate whether to use wind power to provide power for municipal buildings.

The Town Council agreed this month to advertise for people who would like to serve on the Wind Power Exploratory Committee.

Jeffrey Brenner, the council president, said that after a presentation by Lefteris Pavlides, a Roger Williams University professor and wind energy expert and advocate, some council members wondered whether the alternative power source on a limited scale could save on electrical expenses.

“We’re not talking about a wind farm with multiple turbines,” Brenner cautioned at the council’s Jan. 8 meeting. Rather, he said that if the town were to use wind power, it might be one turbine.

Town officials said the exploratory committee had yet to be fully defined in terms of the number of members and other details. The town’s advertisement asks for volunteers, who can get applications through the town’s Web site www.barrington.ri.gov, at the town clerk’s office or at the public library.

Brenner said yesterday that several buildings fall into what would seem to be clusters, such as Town Hall and the library in one area and the public safety building and some of the schools in another. On the other hand, Brenner said the Department of Public Works building is in a location that is perhaps more removed from neighboring properties.

But he made clear that no one has a concept for where a turbine could be considered, because as of now officials don’t know whether they will even entertain one.

“No decisions are going to be made until all issues are fully vetted before the Town Council,” Brenner said yesterday. He said the exploratory committee could come back with a recommendation against using wind power.

Brenner also said there would need to be a cost/benefits analysis: Would the expense for turbine/turbines be worth it because of the energy savings it would generate?

Brenner envisioned the exploratory committee working with Dean Huff, the finance director, on that question.

A year ago, Governor Carcieri announced a plan to have wind power account for 15 percent of the state’s electricity demand. Meanwhile, consideration of wind power has swept into several communities.

In Portsmouth, officials won approval last month to borrow up to $2.6 million in Clean Renewable Energy Bonds to pay for a proposed one or two turbines. The town already sports the state’s first big, privately 0owned turbine at Portsmouth Abbey School.

Bristol voters in November overwhelmingly voted yes in a nonbinding referendum on whether the town should install a wind turbine to reduce electricity use.

Last week, Barrington and Warren councils each agreed to set up exploratory committees.

By Michael P. McKinney

Journal Staff Writer

projo.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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