2008-03-13 / Front Page

Renewable energy consultant may begin study in April

By Michaela Kennedy

The Jamestown Wind Energy Committee plans this month to recommend a sustainable energy consultant to the Town Council. Applied Technology and Management from Newport was named as top choice to conduct the first phase of a wind power feasibility study on the island.

The committee interviewed prospective advisors for the wind energy exploration project the last week of February, and made a selection at its March 4 meeting. They expressed hope to put the recommendation before the council in the next few weeks, and start work on the feasibility study as soon as the first week in April.

Panel members agreed that the three top-ranked bidders in the search were equally impressive. Committee member Michael Larkin commented that "three really good proposals and three really good presentations" were offered, and he would be pleased to go along with any one of them.

Committee member Clayton Carlisle agreed the presentations were good, but showed partiality to ATM. "They've done feasibility studies around the state, and they say they have a set price," he noted. Other members added that the firm's proximity could save time, which could translate into monetary savings.

ATM is a coastal and environmental engineering firm that specializes in resource management, from infrastructure and port development to renewable energy projects. The consulting firm, headquartered in Florida, was chosen by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation to help guide the RIWINDS program, the state's effort toward providing wind-powered generation to supply its electrical demand.

Committee member William Smith asked if ATM had a "vested interest" in RIWINDS.

Carlisle overrode the doubt, saying, "I don't think we have to worry about them giving us the best product for the price."

In an update on availability of grants, committee member Don Wineberg reiterated comments from Andrew Dzykewicz, chief energy advisor to the governor. "Drew said if there's any town in Rhode Island that's eligible, it's Jamestown," noted Wineberg.

In a discussion about fee-in tariffs and net-metering policies, Wineberg urged everyone to support upcoming legislation that would open avenues for alternative energy resource development. "It was feed-in tariffs that made net metering work in Germany," he said. "It's an incentive for all towns to create renewable energy projects."

On the committee's Web site, www.jamestownwind.org, Wineberg wrote that the Rhode Island Legislature was considering two bills that would require National Grid to buy green power at guaranteed minimum prices. The legislation "would likely have a very positive impact on the financial viability of constructing one or more wind power generators on Jamestown," he noted. An additional bill, an amendment to the state's Renewable Energy Standard, would enable Jamestowngenerated power from renewable sources to offset the town's electric bill, potentially reducing that bill to zero.

The committee planned to review the bills and make a formal decision on whether to recommend passage, Wineberg wrote. "I'm confident that I speak for the committee in thanking the legislators who have taken the lead in attempting to promote expansion of renewable energy generating capacity in Rhode Island," he added.

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