2007-07-19 / News

Wind Energy Committee wants $50,000 for island feasibility study

By Michaela Kennedy

The Wind Energy Committee voted last week to ask the Town Council for $50,000 for a wind energy feasibility study.

The committee also voted to recommend that the town begin the process with an invitation for suppliers to submit proposals for the study.

At the July 10 meeting at the police station, wind committee members reviewed the presentations given by renewable energy specialists last month. The consultants, from Applied Technology and Management and People's Power and Light, offered useful guidance towards the exploration of wind turbine-generated energy for the island. "We need professional help," committee member Abigail Anthony commented.

Committee member William Smith agreed, and added that a professional analysis was important in targeting locations that might otherwise be overlooked. He explained that wind turbines could be built in areas that have mediocre wind, mentioning a new site in Portsmouth as an example.

The committee went on to discuss the scope of the study, including site evaluation, feasibility, purchasing, financing and permitting. Panel members noted the big obstacle would be financing to get the project off the ground. Committee chairman Don Wineberg reminded other members that investors should be a focus. "Stakeholder engagement is something we have to spend time on," he said.

For site evaluation, the committee decided to ask consultants to recommend six to eight potential sites for wind turbines. Considerations could include municipal, private or state-owned land.

Questions arose about zoning ordinances that would affect the pursuit of wind energy. Wineberg noted that wind turbines were currently prohibited in open space zoning. He related a conversation with Chris Powell, chairman of the Conservation Commission, about the possibility of locating turbines in protected areas. Wineberg noted environmental differences between the two defined districts for open space, and asked if the panel should consider some areas in open space districts. He said that areas designated district 1 in open space (OS1), such as the Great Creek Marsh, were too environmentally sensitive to sustain construction of a generator.

After some discussion, the committee voted to recommend a revision to the zoning ordinance. The change would allow siting of wind energy generators in OS2 districts with a special use permit.

The panel agreed to invite the Conservation Commission for a joint meeting to share ideas about the project. The committee lost the participation of the liaison from the commission when it slated the second Tuesday of the month for meetings, the same time scheduled for the commission.

Committee members Michael Larkin and Anthony volunteered to serve on a subcommittee to draft the bid request.

Committee members William "Bucky" Brennan and Bob Bowen were absent.

For online news and updates from the Wind Energy Committee, visit www.jamestownwind.org.

Return to top