2007-05-17 / About Town

Wind power analysis for Jamestown includes a dozen goals

By Michaela Kennedy

The newly-organized Wind Energy Committee met for the second time last Tuesday, May 8, and discussed their approach to wind power research. The sevenmember panel identified over a dozen goals to use as stepping stones in their fact-finding mission to harness wind energy for island needs.

Committee Chairman Don Wineberg offered technical, fi- nancial and political feasibility as categories in which to group the goals. Committee Secretary Abigail Anthony said she would categorize the goals for the committee by the next meeting.

"We're going to generate a report with recommendations on wind," Wineberg told the board, adding that the recommendations may be for, or against, the pursuit of wind power. "The point of these goals and objectives is to direct us," he added.

Committee member William "Bucky" Brennan stressed that the group was directed to investigate the feasibility of wind-powered energy generation. "The Town Council charges us with wind. It's in our name." Brennan said via telephone conference from Oregon. Brennan spoke up in response to suggestions from other committee members that all means of energy conservation should be explored, including alternatives to wind.

Committee member Clayton Carlisle suggested evaluating municipal, commercial and residential energy needs. He also suggested finding funding opportunities from the beginning. "Assuming we go through a study, it may have different funding mechanisms. We need to figure out how we're going to pay for each of these stages," he said.

Committee member Robert Bowen agreed, and added that attention should be given to not only creating, but marketing, energy as well. "In order to have public support, it has to be perceived as 'for us, by us,' not from some outside vendor," he said.

Bowen suggested ordinance changes might allow more freedom for installations.

Brennan warned the panel to keep an open mind. "It could be owned by Jamestown, but it could also be owned by some other public entity," he said about the project.

Committee member Michael Larkin suggested using the media to share information about wind energy trends, "I think we should view ourselves as an educational vehicle for the community and source of advocacy," he said. Bowen agreed, adding that stakeholder areas of the island should be identified early.

Larkin also suggested assessing potential drawbacks or ecological considerations, "The first thing that comes to mind is birds," he said.

Wineberg went on to suggest inviting a series of experts to give presentations to the panel. The committee agreed. Bowen said that invitations to speakers should be set up within the first six months. "The town has provided us with a budget," he added.

Comparisons between onshore and off-shore wind generation were discussed, but Bowen pointed out that off-shore areas are owned and controlled by the state. "There's no place we could do it anyway, with shipping channels on both sides," he noted. Bowen went on to suggest the town ask to have a representative on the state committee for wind power.

Bowen referred to a recentlyformed wind power siting study. Governor Carcieri reported last month that the wind siting study group he formed this year was only the first step in the process of determining where wind generation facilities might be located. The governor announced plans to create a stakeholder process to ensure that all interests, including affecting communities and environmental advocates, are considered in actual siting decisions, according to a press release from Carcieri's office.

In a report on the wind power conference in April, Bowen handed out compact disc copies of all the presentations. "Funding information was good," he noted. Bowen also noted that ecological interactions, specifically bird interactions, were mentioned at the conference. "After a while, they just avoided the whole area where the turbines are," he reported.

Wineberg encouraged committee members to go to as many conferences as possible, "It's a good use of our money,"he said.

The committee agreed to invite speakers for 30-minute presentations, and planned to meet more often. The board slated May 29 for a special meeting to begin the educational process.

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