2010-06-03 / Letters to the Editor

Turbine experiments are a bad idea

In my opinion, as a taxpayer and electric customer, I do not want to get stuck with higher utility rates, higher taxes and mandatory funding expenditures subsidizing wind turbine generator experiments at this scale in Jamestown. To discuss the evolution of eyesores in Jamestown and that they grow on you, or to accept one of the many fallacies of authority arguments, is absurd when you do not agree with the premise that WTGs in Jamestown is a good idea.

Just imagine a group of experts recommending that a clean-burning coal electric generating plant would be good for Jamestown. Coal barges anchor regularly in the bay so the supply chain exists. The profits for the town would be a windfall. Very much like the WTG proposal, you would have the pro and opponents. Unlike the WTG, obtaining a special zoning permit for a clean-burning coal electric plant is unrealistic, if not expressly prohibited.

The point: The town of Jamestown has no business being an electric generation hub and to date, lacks similar governance.

To my dismay during these tough economic and fiscal times, no one has entertained more palatable alternatives to utilizing free WTG monies from the government, e.g., let’s try putting up more modest versions above large town facilities and measure whether it really pays to power with wind. Or, try installing one in another town WTG cluster that has no electric grid upgrades needed, could share in the costs of building, operating and maintaining it, and more importantly, reap the benefits of economies of scale – unlike the proposal to the town, it is the prescribed recipe for success in WTG projects.

The shining star of WTG success in Rhode Island is the AESR WTG in Portsmouth. It was a sweetheart deal for Portsmouth. A community unlike Jamestown that is “next” to the electric grid, which secured a firm fixed price after subsidies of $3.2 million and is paying back a bond with little to no interest. For sake of argument, they are making a profit (revenue – costs) according to their website, but the operations and maintenance costs are understated and hidden.

Our situation is no Portsmouth!

We would not have the same subsidies or financing. Jamestown does not have the infrastructure to be considered near the electric grid and more importantly, Jamestown already is rather over-extended with capital investment liabilities.

In my opinion, it is not the aesthetic qualities of wind turbine generators, nor is it the number of birds affected. While these are valid arguments against the installation of one, two or five WTGs in Jamestown, the only issue that matters is what will it cost?

I think we need to turn the lights off to save measurable dollars. On June 7, I look forward to hearing from the real experts on how their tax money should be spent and put large scale wind turbine generation experimentation to bed.
Blake Dickinson

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