2008-03-27 / Front Page

Island teens sound off about wind energy

By Erin Brennan

Conservation is an important matter, especially with high oil costs and energy prices going nowhere but up. But, the Jamestown Wind Committee is suggesting a way to cut the cost of energy for the local municipal buildings by installing wind turbines.

The turbines would be up to 300-feet high, and most likely be located at the south end of the island, according to members of the committee. Wind Committee member William "Bucky" Brennan said that Jamestown is a prime candidate for the turbines.

"We have good wind resources," said Brennan. "We have a good average wind-speed, and we are a good applicant for the project because we rank high on the wind map." The wind map is a topographical map that shows wind-speed. The wind energy would be used to power the buildings such as Town Hall, the water treatment plant, police station, schools, etc. The remaining energy would be sold back to the electric company, which would essentially lower taxes.

"Alternative energy is the way to go," said islander Dan Page, a senior at North Kingstown High School. "I like hearing that we could have something with potential long-term benefits to the island."

The committee has been actively involved in the project for over a year. As of now, they have hired a consultant to conduct a feasibility study, which would help choose the top three sites to put the single or multiple turbines. The consultant will study the island environment and look at the paybacks, the easiest place to put them, and where the turbines could be placed so as to not obscure the view.

The idea for the Wind Committee came when Brennan and Chairman Don Wineberg were sailing by Portsmouth Abbey School, and saw a wind turbine on the campus. "I thought why can't we do this on Jamestown?" Brennan said.

Wind turbines are being integrated into our society slowly. The Portsmouth Abbey turbine is the first and only turbine in the state. It generates 60 percent of the energy on campus.

A debate is raging about the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound. The project is calling for the sound to host America's first ever offshore wind farm with 130 wind turbines. Representatives for Cape Wind say that the project will provide almost all the energy for Cape Cod and the islands. Those opposed to the wind farm say that it will ruin the aesthetics of the bay, and cause more harm than good.

"I heard on the radio that the Kennedy family was opposed to the wind turbines because it would ruin the view when they were sailing," said senior Molly Kirby. "I laughed because saving money and resources is so much more important than one person's view. This is the environment we are talking about."

"Other countries are utilizing their wind resources everyday," said islander Will Reardon.

Horns Rev in Denmark currently hosts two wind farms, and 150 wind turbines. The farms produce 166 megawatts of energy, enough for about 120,000 homes. The city produces about twice the amount of energy that they need, and the Danes send the rest of the power out to the rest of Denmark.

"When I hear that other countries are developing these alternative methods to oil consumption, I think, why aren't we doing that?" said sophomore Danielle Perez.

"Yeah," chimed islander Rory Kirby. "I mean they are huge, but I think they look cool."

With the turbine at Portsmouth Abbey being the only one in the state, the residents of Rhode Island are wondering why. "Someone needs to lead the way," said junior Erik Watson. "Why shouldn't Jamestown be the first?"

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