2008-04-17 / Front Page

Wind energy study put off until next month

By Michaela Kennedy

The Jamestown Wind Energy Committee hoped to have its feasibility study kick-off meeting last week, but the lack of a quorum pushed the introductory phase back one month. Applied Technology and Management, yet to receive a signed contract from the town by the time of the April 8 meeting, was not present.

The three committee members present brought the audience up to speed with wind power considerations locally and statewide. No motions were initiated.

The committee discussed fi- nances and technical jargon with a handful of residents who attended the meeting last week. Town Planner Lisa Bryer confirmed that the Town Council, on March 17, amended a budget allotment to $48,000 for the first stage of the development project.

Chairman Don Wineberg reiterated support shown from Commissioner Andrew Dzykewicz of the Rhode Island Department of Energy Resources for develop- ment of wind power generation on the island. The state office offers a re-payable, renewable energy fund grant to help support sustainable energy technology development in local communities. "We just need to get the grant application in to him," Wineberg said, adding that material expenses may be incurred, such as public education and advertising for public hearings.

Wineberg mentioned a legislative session he and Bryer attended that included Rep. Bruce Long and Sen. Teresa Paiva-Weed. They discussed Jamestown's interest in legislative packets currently being considered. Senate bill 2607 and House bill 7616 would require certain providers of electric service to purchase electricity from eligible electric generators, according to a legislative status report.

In the conversation about possible regulation of renewable energy pricing, Wineberg explained the feed-in tariff bill would require a set minimum premium at which renewable energy would be bought. "There wasn't a lot of enthusiasm for the bill as it is currently written," he added.

The discussion moved on to the net-metering bill, which would allow municipalities a retail credit for a portion of energy created by the town. Bryer noted problems consumers experienced in switching from traditional to sustainable energy resources. "Now we're paying more for green energy," she said. Wineberg agreed, adding, "We want to reward the green power, if more people are advantaged by it."

In response to a question about using Dutch Island as a possible connection to National Grid, the state's electricity distributor, Wineberg admitted that a number of concerns need to be addressed. "It's a very expensive component to the system," he said.

Wineberg encouraged those present to learn about wind energy exploration at the state level, and referred to "some tension" between the governor's office, the University of Rhode Island, and Coastal Resources Management Council. "It sort of mirrors our discussions here," he said.

All present at the town hall discussion last week agreed that wind turbines could create a boost in tourism as a by-product. Wineberg noted that Denmark has had a rise in tourism since installations of wind energy generators, and Audubon stops in Germany do better financially where turbines are located. "They are beautiful, people like to look at them," he added.

Committee members Robert Bowen, William "Bucky" Brennan, and Michael Larkin were absent.

As of last Friday, April 11, Applied Technology and Management received a work contract signed by the town to begin the feasibility study. An introductory presentation for the feasibility study was rescheduled for May 13.

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