BARRINGTON – The explorers of wind power here gathered around six tables pushed together and focused on questions that might determine whether it’s worthwhile to power some Barrington buildings using a wind turbine or turbines.
There are many questions to tackle, and the Wind Power Exploratory Committee agreed last night at its meeting at the public library to create four subcommittees made up of its members. A siting subcommittee will look at potential locations, among other things, and other subcommittees will focus on technology and engineering, cost, and the stakeholders in town.
Subcommittees were slated to meet on different days over the next week and a half and report back when the full exploratory committee meets again in two weeks.
The 26-member exploratory committee will eventually report its findings to the Town Council. The council has authority over how to act on the information.
“What we are trying to do is get the best possible information available to the Town Council,” said Richard Asinof, chairman of the Wind Power Exploratory Committee.
Depending on a subcommittee’s focus, some questions may include how long it would realistically take to get a turbine, should town officials choose to pursue one; the availability of financing for a turbine; the electrical loads of certain town buildings and a potential grouping of those buildings; the engineering that would be required for a wind system.
Asinof said the stakeholders subcommittee will look at some important issues, including helping the public to better understand the subject and identifying who are the various stakeholders.
Discussion last night suggested it would be important to see not only whether there are “quantitative” benefits to wind power but quality-of-life ones as well.
The committee also spoke of hearing from people who worked on installing the wind turbine at the Portsmouth Abbey School, in Portsmouth, and experts from the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust.
As the meeting concluded, Asinof thanked members for offering some different opinions on issues as the committee begins to delve into its tasks.
Barrington’s committee includes members from a spectrum of professions, such as a private investor, an engineer, a social studies teacher, and a physician. Establishing such a committee is a trend blowing through the region. Warren has set up a similar committee. The Jamestown Town Council is slated to appoint a wind committee this month.
Towns are looking at wind turbines, in part, as possible ways to save on the cost of electrical and other bills.
In Massachusetts, the Swansea school district is looking into whether wind could save energy costs.
Portsmouth is permitted to borrow up to $2.6 million in clean-energy bonds to build one or two turbines at its middle and high schools. Bristol voters, in a nonbinding November referendum, voted yes on whether the town should erect a wind turbine to reduce electricity use.
Governor Carcieri has spoken in support of having wind power accounting for more of the state’s energy supply.
“What we are trying to do is get the best possible information available to the Town Council.”
Chairman of the Wind Power Exploratory Committee
By Michael P. McKinney
Journal Staff Writer
7 March 2007
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