September 19, 2017
Rhode Island

Council debates wind power issues

By Cynthia Drummond, Sun staff writer | The Westerly Sun | September 18, 2017 |

HOPKINTON – Members of the Town Council said they are reluctant to allow wind turbines to proliferate, but agreed at their Monday meeting to continue to explore ways of permitting some farmers to use wind energy as a means to generate income from their land. The town has already passed an ordinance allowing farmers with larger parcels to devote portions of their land to solar generating stations.

Councilor Barbara Capalbo and council President Frank Landolfi said they were willing to consider wind energy, but Sylvia Thompson said she was opposed to turbines. Council Vice President Thomas Buck and councilor David Husband did not attend the meeting.

Capalbo said she had read a draft wind power ordinance proposed by the Conservation Commission and she suggested several changes to it. But she also expressed reservations about the visual impacts of the turbines, which could be 415 feet high, in residential areas.

“As much as I like windmills, we are so densely populated and we have so many areas that are actually scenic that I think it’s difficult in a country environment,” she said.

Thompson said the town would not need to write a wind ordinance if wind turbines were banned altogether, but Capalbo and Landolfi said state incentives might make it necessary at some point for the town to have regulations already in place.

Conservation Commission Chairman Harvey Buford suggested that rather than ban wind power entirely, the council could explore compromises that would permit a limited number of turbines on a few farms.

“If I could get you to continue the process of the wind turbine ordinance and do some more research and send us directions on what you might have us do,” he said.

Landolfi said he was prepared to continue the discussion.

Buford offered to look into options that would prevent a proliferation of turbines.

“We’d be willing to do some research and come up with some ways, if it’s just to assure that we don’t have 1,000 of them in town,” Buford said.

Thompson said she opposed even a single turbine.

“I’m not in favor of one,” she said.

Capalbo said the town would need to look closely at several aspects of wind energy.

“There are a lot of things we need to be very careful about, flicker being one” she said. “I don’t think sound is as big a problem as flicker.”

Council members agreed to continue researching wind power and its feasibility for the town.

Buford said his group was conducting field trips to visit a turbine on Route 102 in Coventry. The first trip will be on Sept. 26 at 5 p.m. and the second will take place on Oct. 5 at p.m.

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