Naval Station Newport held an Open House at Middletown High School for residents to learn about the proposed development of wind turbines. Several tables were set up with experts at each for attendees to walk through.
Captain Joseph Voboril, Commanding Officer of Naval Station Newport, was greeting guests, listening to concerned residents, and was explaining the Environmental Assessment for the development of wind energy facilities at Naval Station Newport. Attendees were encouraged to write down questions and feedback to drop into boxes.
Naval Station Newport is one of the largest consumers of electricity in the state of Rhode Island, spending an average of $12 million annually. The base load electrical consumption is approximately nine megawatts and the proposed wind turbine project will potentially produce up to nine megawatts, which is 26 percent of the current annual electrical consumption. The turbine would result in at least a $3 million in savings.
Naval Station Newport must become more self-sufficient and maximize the Navy’s ability to meet or exceed renewable power supply goals mandated in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and Executive Order 13423.
The wind turbines would be constructed at some combination of twelve sites on Naval Station Newport, ranging from Portsmouth down to Newport. Joanne Galuska, Deputy Public Works Officer of Naval Station Newport, said the end result could be a couple of different areas with potentially different size wind turbines.
“We’ve done extensive research regarding these 12 proposed sites,” Galuska said. “The space around the turbines needs to be 1.5 times its height, and the Federal Aviation Administration limits the height as well.”
The assessment, which Captain Voboril initiated, is in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act. It is expected to be completed in September 2011 and the assessment will be one of the determining factors. In addition to compliance with the FAA, other criteria for placement and sizes include “efficient and cost effective construction and maintenance, no significant adverse impact on natural resources, cultural resources, protected species, human environment or socioeconomics of the region, and geotechnical requirements for structural considerations.”
Residents that attended the event had several concerns, mostly because they did not want to see the turbines from their homes. However, many studies will be completed that also include a Bird and Bat Biological Survey, a Noise and Shadow Flicker Study, and a Marine Mammal Observation Study.
Captain Voboril said the project has been in the works for about three years.
“It’s taken this long to come to this point, in fact my predecessor was the first to begin the research. But we’re excited to be here,” he said.
It will be another couple of years before the turbines are actually constructed. Naval Station Newport still needs to fund and design the project as well.
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