2007-09-20 / Editorial

Panel hopes funds blow their way

By Michaela Kennedy

In the wake of a presentation to the town council last week, the Jamestown Wind Energy Committee put their search for funding into high gear. Committee members agreed to fill out grant applications while tweaking a draft request for bids on a feasibility study.

At its Sept. 11 meeting and one day after the presentation, the committee reviewed their first dialogue with the council since the panel was formed last April. Chairman Don Wineberg noted that the council asked the committee to exhaust other avenues before asking for money.

Committee member Clayton Carlisle recalled a comment made that now was not the most opportune time to ask for money. "Someone made the point that implementing energy efficiency measures should be done," he said. William "Bucky" Brennan, also on the committee, added that measures by the town to save energy should already be taken, regardless of the panel's charge to research wind generation.

Carlisle, along with Wineberg, volunteered to search out and identify groups that could provide possible funding resources. Committee member Abigail Anthony suggested traditional and non-traditional sources, "even looking at places that wouldn't seem likely to fund a project."

Bob Bowen, another committee member, suggested creating sub-committees with volunteers to help with research and writing grant applications. He mentioned contacting people who have already come forward to participate in the effort.

Bowen reported he was pressing state energy offi- cials for information on their progress with a nationallyfunded program on wind research and development projects. He posed questions about the state's position in the process of becoming involved in Wind Powering America. "Massachusetts has opted in, but not Rhode Island," he said.

Wind Powering America, an initiative funded through the U.S. Department of Energy, is a federal commitment to increase the use of wind energy throughout the country. The program hopes to boost economic development and enhance power generation options regionally.

Bowen also reported he asked state officials for clarity on a net metering bill. The bill, which passed the House on May 3 and was passed on to the Senate, encourages Rhode Island residents, businesses and communities to build renewable energy projects that would feed into the electricity grid.

Wineberg said he wrote to Andrew Dzykewicz, chief energy advisor to the governor, inviting him to the wind committee's next meeting. Dzykewicz had made arrangements to speak before the town council about the state's wind energy prospects, but Wineberg suggested he meet with the committee first. For the state advisor to go before the town council now would be premature, Wineberg noted.

The committee also discussed pursuing zoning changes to allow wind turbines through special permits in open space 2 zones on the island. A request for the changes was also discussed at the council meeting.

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