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Salty Brine State Beach turbine victim of storm

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. – A fierce wind, shrieking into Rhode Island at speeds that were just a tick below hurricane force, toppled a wind turbine at Salty Brine State Beach Tuesday morning, bending the turbine’s tower and dropping the structure onto both a wooden pavilion and the rocky riprap along the channel in Galilee.

The Department of Environmental Management learned about the incident around 10 a.m. and environmental police immediately went to the site, near the channel and adjacent to George’s Restaurant, said environmental police Chief Dean Hoxsie.

Both the 4-inch thick galvanized pipe tower that supported the turbine and the turbine itself were destroyed, Hoxsie said, adding that wind had toppled the tower by overpowering an area of the structure about 10 feet off the ground. The small wooden pavilion, which had been replaced in recent years, was also a total loss, he said.

The turbine was mounted atop a free-standing tower located next to a facility building for the state run Salty Brine Beach, he said. The turbine and its tower had been installed in 2010.

The the 10 kilowatt turbine has powered the facility building, which has bathrooms and a snack bar. Excess power has gone to National Grid, Hoxsie said, adding that the utility disconnected the turbine Tuesday to reduce the risk of live wires at the site.

Winds blasted into Narragansett from a south southwesterly direction at speeds of 63 miles per hour – 11 miles per hour below hurricane force – during Tuesday’s storm, according to the National Weather Service.

No one was hurt when the turbine came down, Hoxsie said.

Hoxsie said he is not aware of any particular protocol regarding shutting down the turbine during a storm. An identical turbine in place at East Matunuck Beach was running during the storm and unharmed by the heavy winds, he said.

Hoxsie did not have have an estimate on the cost of the damage. DEM’s parks division, working with director Janet L. Coit, will assess the situation and make a determination about replacing the turbine.