PORTSMOUTH – Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin has directed $250,000 from Rhode Island’s share of the 2007 settlement of a Clean Air Act lawsuit to support the repair of Portsmouth’s broken 1.5-megawatt wind turbine.
The turbine, which stands adjacent to the town’s high school, began operation in 2009 and ran until the wind turbines’ gearbox suffered a premature failure in 2012. The town of Portsmouth must secure the remaining funds necessary for the repair work and demonstrate “feasibility of the wind turbine,” according to a release from Kilmartin’s office.
A spokesperson for Kilmartin did not immediately respond regarding how much money Portsmouth would need to allocate to cover the balance.
“The town of Portsmouth was one of the first municipalities in Rhode Island to advance the State’s objective of promoting renewable energy and reducing emissions of air pollutants,” said Kilmartin in a statement. “It is, therefore, in the state’s interest to support these efforts so that town and state may continue to obtain the benefits of local renewable energy and reduced air pollution.”
The $250,000 allocated for the Portsmouth turbine stems from the state’s $1.2 million share of settlement monies from a multistate and federal lawsuit brought against American Electric Power Service Corp. The lawsuit alleged that AEP constructed and modified power plants in the Ohio River valley without obtaining Clean Air Act permits, causing increased smog in Rhode Island and other states. AEP paid a $15 million penalty and committed $60 million to finance pro-environmental projects, of which $24 million was distributed to eight states to fund renewable energy and other environmental projects.
In previous years, the attorney general has leveraged the settlement funds to reduce state energy costs and harmful air pollution through the installation of wind turbines at Fishermen’s Memorial State Campground and East Matunuck State Beach, according to the release.
In 2012, the funds were used to support the $1.2 million solar roof project on a R.I. Public Transportation Authority building in Providence.
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