JAMESTOWN – The town is moving ahead with plans to install an approximately 360-foot-tall wind turbine on waterfront land in the shadow of the Newport Pell Bridge.
Jamestown officials gathered on Tuesday at the proposed site of the turbine at Taylor Point overlooking Narragansett Bay to announce the start of a three-month study of the wind resources there.
“We’re not just talking about renewable energy,” said state Rep. Deborah Ruggiero, D-Jamestown, Middletown. “We’re doing it.”
Jamestown has been exploring the installation of one or more wind turbines for several years now. A town committee considered 12 possible locations, narrowing the choices to Taylor Point and Fort Getty. The committee settled on the former in part because of concerns about damaging the views at Fort Getty, a state park toward the southeastern part of the island.
“There was a little pushback from that, but there was none here,” Town Councilman Bob Bowen, a former member of the committee, said at the Taylor Point event.
Under the current proposal, the town would put up a turbine with a capacity of between 1.5 megawatts and 2.2 megawatts adjacent to the municipal wastewater-treatment plant on Freebody Drive. A 1.5-megawatt turbine would be the same size as the one at Portsmouth High School. That turbine is the largest of five in Rhode Island, which includes one other in Portsmouth, one in Middletown and two in Warwick.
Jamestown’s turbine is expected to be able to provide enough power for all of its municipal buildings and facilities – including the wastewater-treatment plant, Town Hall and two schools – and would still have enough capacity to feed electricity into the regional power grid, according to Town Manager Bruce Keiser.
The money raised by selling power would be used to pay off the bonds that Jamestown would issue to finance installation of the turbine, said Bowen. Residents, last year, approved borrowing up to $6.5 million to put up multiple wind turbines.
Because the Taylor Point proposal calls for the construction of only one turbine, the full amount likely would not be needed. In addition, the town was awarded a $750,000-grant last year from the federal stimulus package to help finance the project.
How much power the turbine could generate won’t be known for certain until the end of the feasibility study being conducted by Alteris Renewables, of Wilton, Conn. On Tuesday, subcontractor Second Wind, of Somerville, Mass., put in place a SODAR, or acoustic radar device, that will measure wind speed, shear and turbulence at the proposed site of the turbine. The system will remain in place for 90 days.
“You know there’s wind here,” said Michael Wiltshire, of Second Wind, as a cold breeze blew in off the water. “This is a nice way of validating it for the town.”
Jamestown’s plans are progressing as other proposals for wind turbines in Rhode Island have slowed or been dropped completely. The Washington County Regional Planning Council returned $750,000 in stimulus funds that were to go toward installing a pair of turbines at Ninigret Park in Charlestown after that town enacted a moratorium on wind energy.
Plans for two turbines in North Kingstown have run into problems after the town revoked a building permit for one and subjected the other to further review.
Concerns have also been raised by a case before the state Division of Public Utilities and Carriers that could change how the owners of renewable energy systems sell power to the grid.
The outcome of that case could affect how the turbine planned at Taylor Point is configured. The installation would also be affected by existing power lines at the site. Alteris has submitted the town’s plans to National Grid for review, and is awaiting an answer from the utility.
“A lot will depend on the electrical infrastructure here, and what will be needed to tie into that,” said Nick Laskovski, wind energy specialist with Alteris.
Meanwhile, the plan recently cleared another hurdle after the town successfully appealed a Federal Aviation Administration decision that denied permission for the turbine because of the proximity to flight paths for T.F. Green Airport in Warwick. Last week, the town received written approval for a turbine of up to 363 feet (or 400 feet above sea level).
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding