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Bristol hoping Warren and Tiverton join wind alliance

Bristol has initiated its share of a proposed two-year wind turbine collaboration that proponents say could save it, and any other towns willing to join, hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy costs – and installation costs. The idea is for several towns to buy multiple wind turbines in bulk, thereby reducing the overall initial outlay.

According to Bristol Town Council Chairman Kenneth Marshall, Bristol has unanimously decided to move forward with preliminary stages of this project.

“We have begun engineering studies of ground sustainability at the town beach and landfill, which are our test locations,” he said. “We also plan to discuss such possibilities with Mt. Hope Farm, which is an open space protected area, and Brown and Roger Williams universities.”

Mr. Marshall said the engineering reports are necessary in order to apply for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) interest-free, clean renewable energy bonds that Bristol would use to pay for the turbines.

The plan, he said, is to put the project out for bid and contract at least 10 large wind turbines – two for use in Bristol, two for Warren, six for in Tiverton, which has the most open space, and possibly some for Little Compton and Middletown.

Each large turbine has a 25-year warranty and its cost, including installment, would be about $1.5 million to $2 million, he said.

“I hope Warren and Tiverton decide to apply for ‘X’ amount of turbines, because we could then leverage our resources and bid as a group, which will allow us to acquire a larger quantity of turbines at a cheaper price,” he said.

The Warren Town Council recently unanimously approved studying wind power in town as a means of reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and other non-renewable energy sources, and Tiverton is also studying the issue.

Mr. Marshall said he is not sure if the collaboration will be completely feasible in the eyes of the IRS.

“To my knowledge, an effort like this hasn’t been tried. However, Bristol has started grant writing and research and welcomes any community to join,” he said.

According to Mr. Marshall, Bristol pays approximately $900,000 a year in electrical costs from schools, municipal buildings and pumping stations.

“Based on Portsmouth Abbey’s small turbine, from which they have saved $250,000 in the past year,” he said, “ìour two proposed large turbines could offset and pay for our town’s energy and gain us close to $1 million.”

The value of the wind turbines will increase, as energy and fossil fuel rates continue to rise, he added.

“I don’t like how we are monopolized by energy giants and have no say in rate increases. The turbines are a way for Bristol to control its own destiny and not be held hostage by such giants,” he said.

Mr. Marshall said Bristol’s collaborative plan is separate from Governor Don Carcieri’s statewide effort to implement off-shore wind farms, which he supports.

“If every community did a little, Rhode Island would be a better place,” he said. “I can’t see a drawback from using free, clean energy that doesn’t involve digging and extracting resources that will ultimately become pollutants,” he said.

By Jeremy Rosen


21 September 2007