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Navy drops wind power plan for Naval Station Newport, in favor of solar panels

NEWPORT, R.I. – The Navy has dropped a proposal to install several large wind turbines at Naval Station Newport and is instead considering the installation of solar panels at the 1,399-acre base on the west side of Aquidneck Island.

The plan to generate up to nine megawatts of wind energy – which would have seen the station build the largest onshore wind power installation in Rhode Island – had been in consideration since 2008. A study on the wind power options was completed last year, but the proposal had been on hold for months as Navy officials in Washington, D.C. decided whether to move forward with it.

According to an announcement Wednesday from the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, the feasibility study’s findings “do not support pursuing large-scale wind energy at Newport at this time for a combination of reasons, including technological, historical and community concerns.”

Lisa Rama, a spokeswoman for Naval Station Newport, said she didn’t know of one single reason that stood out over others for why the plan was rejected. She cited questions from engineers on base about the proposal and objections from neighbors on the impact of views.

“There was a degree of public opposition to the program from the neighborhoods near where the turbines would have been,” she said.

A study is already underway to explore the installation of solar panels that could generate up to 10 megawatts of energy – more than the minimum amount of electricity used by the station at all times. The panels would be installed on brownfields sites and rooftops.

“If completed, this project will allow for the production of large-scale renewable energy resources on previously under-utilized land,” the announcement from the Navy said.