PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island will use $240,000 from a legal settlement to pay for wind turbines at Fishman’s Memorial State Campground in Narragansett and East Matunuck State Beach.
On Wednesday, R.I. Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said the money came from a multi-state settlement with American Electric Power Service, which constructed and renovated power plants across the United States that failed to meet environmental laws.
Under the settlement, the company paid a $15 million penalty and pledged $60 million for environmental projects. Eight states shared $24 million, and Rhode Island received $1.2 million, distributed through five annual installments of $240,000 until 2012.
(Although the company had no plants in Rhode Island, the state successfully argued that the company’s actions unfairly hurt Rhode Island-based competitors that were complying with the law.)
“As a state, we have made a commitment to reduce our energy costs at state-owned facilities through renewable energy projects,” Kilmartin said in a news release. “The wind turbine projects at Fisherman’s Memorial and East Matunuck take advantage of the strong winds along our coast, reduce emissions from traditional energy sources and save taxpayer dollars by reducing costs.”
This is not the first time the state has sought to install a wind turbine at the memorial campground. Last year, the state put the entirety of the settlement money toward a 100-kilowatt turbine but bids came in above $240,000.
Kilmartin said the state would use the money from last year and combine it with about $156,000 of the most recent money to pay for the turbine. Kilmartin’s office said it expected the turbine to produce two-thirds of the electricity required to run the facility.
The remainder of the money, about $84,000, will be used to help pay for the wind turbine at East Matunuck State Beach in South Kingstown. To complete the estimated $125,000 project, the state will draw from money already budgeted, said a spokeswoman for the R.I. Department of Environmental Management, which operates the facility.
At the beach, the department wants to erect a 10-kilowatt, 120-foot-tall wind turbine that can power about 30 percent of the facility.
If the turbine becomes a reality, it would be the second turbine at a state beach. Last year, the DEM opened a “green” bathhouse at the Salty Brine State Beach in Narragansett. The facility includes a wind turbine, solar power to heat water for the facility and other energy-efficient measures.
In a statement, DEM Director Janet Coit hailed the decision to put the settlement money toward wind projects.
“This is a win-win situation, where funds from the AEP settlement will reduce our carbon footprint through use of wind power, and reduce the state’s energy costs at state facilities,” Coit said.