2010-01-28 / Editorial

Looming deadline forces decision on wind turbines

With the combined carrots of possible federal stimulus money and a half-million dollar state grant, the Town Council may next week vote on whether Jamestown will pursue building not one, but two electricity-generating turbines on our island.

Such a deadline causes one to pause and question whether erecting two of these massive machines makes sound sense financially. One turbine seems like an experiment, but the town will have quite an investment with two turbines. Do we want a wind farm?

The good news is that Jamestown voters will ultimately make the final decision on the fate of these potential island windmills because they will be asked to approve the bond issue necessary to fund the construction.

The latest idea is to place one turbine at Ft. Getty and one turbine at Taylor Point. Excess electricity could be sold at nearly market rates, we’re told.

We have argued against the Ft. Getty location in the past and will continue to do so. It makes more sense to place one, or possibly two, windmills at Taylor Point, where we already have a bounty of infrastructure – the Newport Pell Bridge and administration center/toll booths, the town’s wastewater treatment plant and the newly-constructed highway garage.

There are too many golden possibilities available for recreational pursuits at Ft. Getty to hamstring the park with the constraints of a wind turbine. It would seem that the ideal place to build a wind turbine on that side of Jamestown would be Dutch Island. However, Dutch Island is owned by the state, so it could take a while to determine whether that uninhabited island would work as a possible site.

The financial assistance of state and federal monies makes building a wind turbine or two now an attractive idea. The Town Council should finalize a plan and then put it to the voters.

— Jeff McDonough

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