Voting process prompts resignation
Editor’s note: The following letter was sent to the Town Council and copied to the Jamestown Press.
I hereby resign from all my town positions, including the Jamestown Wind Energy Committee and the Jamestown Zoning Board of Review, effective immediately.
The vote of Councilmen Bowen, Schnack and Murphy specifi cally intended to kill any possibility of a turbine at Ft. Getty for the foreseeable future imposes a multimillion-dollar tax increase on Jamestowners; deprives our citizens of the right to vote on this project up or down; and compels us all to continue to consume more polluting, global-warming, imported fossil fuels, all while clean, renewable wind energy blows over our homes every day.
By voting to pursue only grant money for a single turbine at Taylor Point, Messrs. Bowen, Schnack and Murphy have denied Jamestown residents the right to decide the town’s wind energy policy for ourselves. I cannot serve a council majority that shows such poor fi- nancial, environmental and political judgment.
The Wind Energy Committee presented the council with these incontrovertible facts:
• Turbines at Ft. Getty and Taylor Point would be cash flow positive every year, including the first year.
• Due to the pricing guaranteed by the state’s net metering law, the only financial risks to the town in these projects would be if the wind stopped blowing or energy prices went down. Does anyone realistically believe either of these will happen?
• A Ft. Getty turbine could coexist easily with all other uses of Ft. Getty – indeed recent polling of campers indicates most would be happy to co-exist with a turbine. Our recommendation also contemplated improving the Ft. Getty experience for everyone by burying all utility cables along Ft. Getty Road.
The Wind Energy Committee was always aware that state law caps net metered projects. We recently learned that the cap is somewhere in the 30 to 40 megawatt range. While Jamestown is further along than any town except Portsmouth in developing net metered projects and will therefore fit under the cap, in as little as two years, it is highly likely that no more net metering capacity will be available under the current cap and any more turbines in Jamestown will not be financially feasible. We need to act now.
The council majority also chose to disregard the fact that there are twice as many people on the Ft. Getty waiting list as there are camping spots in Ft. Getty. Realistically, the town would only lose camper revenue if literally no one in the country wanted sunset view, oceanfront campground space that also happens to be hundreds of feet away from a wind turbine that most people, though admittedly not all, consider beautiful.
Abigail Anthony’s letter to the Jamestown Press is right. Building two turbines at the same time would reduce construction costs by over $500,000, thereby requiring even less debt and producing more profit for the town than the committee formally modeled.
The council’s voting process contributed to my need to resign. Councilman Bowen pressed the committee to file a presentation for public notice before the council meeting and asked the committee to spend $2,500 to have its economist physically present at the council meeting. We did both things, then the council refused to let us make the presentation and didn’t ask the economist a single question.
Many people in the council chambers the night of your Ft. Getty vote understood that the votes had been pre-counted, the resolutions pre-formulated and the decision not to allow the committee or economist to respond as requested by the council - pre-determined.
Council members Michael White and Ellen Winsor were completely supportive of the Wind Energy Committee’s recommendations and I thank them. I also firmly believe the last council would have been enthusiastically supportive of our committee’s recommendation. Unfortunately, Councilmen Bowen, Schnack and Murphy are not willing to let Jamestowners decide on a Ft. Getty turbine. I continue to be outraged at this undemocratic decision and hope many other voters feel the same way.
Don E. Wineberg