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Turbines taller than Superman building planned for Johnston-Cranston line

Six wind turbines exceeding 500 feet in height are set to be built on industrial lots near the Johnston-Cranston border.

Eyewitness News has learned Green Development LLC (previously known as Wind Energy Development LLC) has received a special use permit from the Johnston planning and zoning boards to construct the turbines on land being leased from private owners. The green-energy company needs final approval for a height variance, which is expected to come at a Sept. 28 Zoning Board of Review meeting.

The turbines would be built at or near 116 Shun Pike, 2141 Plainfield Pike and 26 Green Hill Rd., according to town records. All of the lots are privately-owned industrial parcels that sit between the landfill and Plainfield Pike.

Officials at Green Development say they’ll start preparing those sites for the $84-million project next week, with construction beginning in December or January. The turbines are set to arrive next summer and are anticipated to be turning and online by late 2018.

Green Development will be selling the energy produced by the turbines to National Grid. The company will lease the land and provide the town with $80,000 annually in PILOT payments, according to zoning board meeting minutes.

Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena said the energy company has also agreed to provide thousands of dollars in scholarship money to the town in addition to their payments in lieu of taxes.

Town documents show the height for the proposed turbines would be 519 feet. By comparison, Providence’s Superman building stands at approximately 428 feet, and the New England Institute of Technology turbine is 156 feet.

Polisena says neighbors shouldn’t be concerned.

“It’s in an unobtrusive area,” the mayor told Eyewitness News. “You’re not going to have homes around it. A lot of it is farmland area.”

According to its website, Green Development has previously constructed turbines in Portsmouth, North Kingstown and Coventry. The company plans to construct a seventh turbine near the Johnston landfill in the near future.

“I’m glad to see that our town is coming on board because we do have those other renewable energy sources,” said Polisena, who noted Johnston also has a plant that recycles methane gas emitted from the landfill, a biodigestive plant and a solar farm.