2010-12-16 / Letters to the Editor

‘No value’ in wind turbine project

In my opinion, 31 percent of Jamestown voters, whether in protest or a veiled attempt to embarrass the town by disregarding published recommendations, cannot be considered overwhelming support for the wind-turbine project.

I respectfully disagree with the editorials that continue to defend another local municipal wind-turbine project: Portsmouth. It was a failure despite the $3 million firm fixed-price contract, zero-percent interest bond, large government subsidy and perfect location. I say failure because the wind-turbine company is no longer in business and taxpayers now incur warrantee risks. The Portsmouth Economic Development Committee reports $200,000 in annual revenues with most operating and maintenance costs well hidden. The takeaway is that this project barely makes money; an understatement when describing a wind turbine that was basically given to them under perfect conditions.

On the other hand, we have Jamestown. People for a wind turbine regularly reference Portsmouth as the “shining star” and use it to further a bad idea. It is not a good example of success. Jamestown will be lucky to purchase a cost-effective wind turbine for less than $5.8 million, not including development costs. By this I mean have it erected somewhere in Jamestown, not connected to the grid. To connect this thing from somewhere in Jamestown to the power grid will be more than $1.25 million.

Unfortunately, Jamestown should not include the $750,000 grant because the March 2012 completion deadline is unrealistic due to time lags for permits, FAA challenges, 6- to 18-month manufacturer delivery, power line upgrades and favorable construction contract negotiations. It also should be obvious to a casual observer that the Air National Guard fly large planes nightly through Taylor Point’s flight path, so odds are the FAA decision will stand.

The cost even for wealthy communities like Jamestown should inhibit Jamestown from moving any closer towards a windturbine mistake. What I am saying is that there is no value in this project from a taxpayer’s perspective and an extra burden on electric customers. The unintended consequences of this project are that Jamestown taxpayers will pay higher rates for electricity, higher taxes to cover the losses, and inadvertently aid in more profits for National Grid. Why do we want to spend more money to come to this conclusion?

I recommend using money more wisely to showcase that Jamestown is a green community. For example, we can make Jamestown the cutting edge of energy efficient technologies. This is something that will pay for itself and at the same time provides the “green” trophy. Rhode Island will not be able to balance the $400 million deficit with stimulus money this year. These costs will be passed down to Jamestown. Please stop the spending! I applaud the town’s slow pace toward the wind-turbine project. I also implore them to put this in the bucket of something that would be nice to have, but not worth the money.
Blake Dickinson

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