NORTH SMITHFIELD – Those months of jumping hurdles and gaining approvals for an almost-500-foot wind turbine in town may all be for naught.
Town officials indicated this week that in-fighting among the investors – and worry about the intentions of a new Town Council – may cause a delay that could derail the deal.
Two months ago, the town began discussing purchasing open space in the Dowling Village mixed-use development for the turbine, essentially negotiating two purchase-and-sales agreements so the town and the North Smithfield Land Trust could jointly preserve 40 acres adjacent to the southeast corner of Booth Pond. The town would separately own 2.5 acres of land for the turbine and lease it to the developers.
The $7-million turbine would supply electricity to tenants of Dowling Village by creating power in the range of 3 million to 4 million kilowatt hours per year.
Under the turbine plan that might now be scuttled, the town will pay for the 40 acres of open space by tapping $525,000 from an already-approved open space bond. That would be repaid over 20 years using a portion of the $40,000-per-year lease payments from the developer to the town, passed through RAM Investments.
But representatives of Dowling Village Wind, who also have stake in the deal, are worried the incoming council will flip and suddenly turn its back on the tentative agreement in place, says one councilor.
That happened two years ago when a new council reversed the decision to buy the Gold Property.
The new council will be sworn into office on Dec. 1.
Now DV Wind is asking RAM for a 50 percent match for road construction that’s part of the project so they have some kind of reimbursement if the new Town Council decides the deal is not something it wants to pursue.
RAM hasn’t agreed to it, said Councilor Steven Biron Tuesday.
DV Wind must start clearing trees for road construction near the turbine by Dec. 31, or it will not be eligible for tax credits, he added. The deadline is drawing closer, and the outgoing council’s decision to leave the deal up to the next council is causing tensions among parties involved to grow.
Edward Yazbak, who is one of four newcomers on the five-member council, said he had limited information concerning the deal.
“All I know is what I read in The Valley Breeze and those issues that have come up,” he said. “But I have not formed an opinion. Once the parties come to an agreement, it is something I’d be willing to look into.”
Other new council members couldn’t be reached for comment.
Town Administrator Paulette Hamilton also told The Breeze this week, “I believe that once a final document has been agreed upon and presented to the council, they’ll make a decision in the best interest of the town.”
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