TIVERTON – Green energy proponents say the town should consider acting on its own to develop wind power in the industrial park.
Garry Plunkett, the town’s representative on the East Bay Energy Consortium, said EBEC currently has no plans for developing wind power within its territory.
“EBEC is still functioning, but there is nothing proactive right now,” Plunkett said. “The idea of a consortium offering wind energy probably won’t happen. It is just too hard.”
Given that, Plunkett asked the council to meet with Apex Wind Energy, a company from Charlottesville, Va., that develops and manages wind energy projects throughout North America.
It will help the town know if it can harvest the wind, Plunkett said.
EBEC was founded in 2009, uniting eight East Bay towns to develop a wind farm.
Tiverton was chosen as the best site because it had an undeveloped 95-acre industrial park that is close to a main road, has consistent wind and is right next to a place to plug in, Plunkett said.
“The big thing about the industrial park is that it is a stone’s throw from a facility where it can connect to the grid,” Plunkett said. There is a gas-fired power plant right next to the industrial park. A wind farm could share its connection to the high voltage power lines that run through there, Plunkett said.
EBEC proposed a state bond that would finance the construction of a wind farm and establish a mechanism for the consortium to market the power produced and distribute the expected profits.
The legislation that would have established EBEC as a quasi-public agency capable of floating government bonds failed in the 2012 General Assembly. It was not revived this year, Plunkett said.
“The problem we had was trying to communicate with all the different towns and deal with the legislature,” Plunkett said. “It looked like chaos.”
Other towns in EBEC are Barrington, East Providence, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth and Warren.
The council last week asked City Clerk Nancy Mello to arrange a meeting for the council, Plunkett, the town’s two water authorities and Apex Wind Energy. The town’s two water authorities own land right next to the industrial park and could become part of a development proposal, Plunkett said.
“We should basically all sit down to talk it over,” Plunkett said. “Wind power is still a possibility. We need to have a meeting. That has never happened before.”
Apex Wind has been in the town in the past. The company was invited by the town three years ago to look at the feasibility of developing wind power at the industrial park, Plunkett said.
“We did that so we could compare their proposal to an EBEC proposal,” he explained. “That did that for us.
“Now, they need to know if the town is still in this game or not.”
EBEC proposed a 25-megawatt project at the industrial park. A pre-feasibility study completed in 2009 identified Tiverton as the best site for the project.
Work continues on the project, Plunkett said. A meteorological tower was erected in town in August 2011 by EBEC. It will provide 24-month data at the end of the summer, the length of data developers need to attract financing for projects, Plunkett said.
“That is one of the important things we are getting out of EBEC,” he said. “Once we see that data, we will have a better idea how to proceed.”
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