2012-01-26 / Letters to the Editor

Not going forward with turbine is a ‘no-brainer’

In my opinion, after reviewing the wind turbine data presented to the town last week, I am more convinced that Jamestown should not move forward on this project at the expense of both Jamestown taxpayers and electric rate payers. As the Jamestown Press reported, the proposed wind turbine is comparable to the unit at Portsmouth High School, which is currently not operational. When it is running, it produces about $517,000 a year in electricity.

Portsmouth, unlike Jamestown, had no limitations with the grid, was secured by a never-again, firm, fixed-price contract and generous grant subsidies at almost 50 percent of Jamestown’s proposed $5.8 million, all financed with low interest and debt service costs. Portsmouth pays roughly $34,000 a year in debt service. So from a layman’s perspective, if Portsmouth is roughly 50 percent of the cost of Jamestown, Jamestown’s annual net benefit is negative based upon the data given.

Additionally, the revenue projection Jamestown is basing its decision upon is invalid, as the state has not released the electric purchase rates for turbines like Jamestown’s using distributed generation. This means that the town comes up $44,000 short a year for every penny the kilowatt rate decreases. Add these costs and revenue shortfalls to the $160,000 municipal electric bill Jamestown will still pay each year, and to me it is a no-brainer.

I would also use the Portsmouth High School wind turbine in comparison as follows: Portsmouth has a turbine that was essentially given to them that has yet to produce the windfall of profits as predicted. Interestingly, the Tiverton Patch recently published an article regarding the consortium of towns partnering on wind energy. It stated: “…the consortium is reportedly crafting legislation to become an independent government agency to potentially eliminate the project’s liability on the nine towns.” Yes, a light bulb went on above my head too! If wind energy were such a great idea, why would they need this liability protection?

In this economy, with many of the financial issues facing the town and the state, I do not think it is prudent to bet taxpayer money on a wind turbine project that cannot pay for itself using the most creative accounting techniques. With regard to financial assistance, I think it is overly optimistic that Jamestown would receive subsidies for this project as it appears that many grants are earmarked for solar projects.

Lastly, is purposely creating visual pollution from a 400-foot wind turbine and 60- to 80-foot utility poles dissecting the island from Taylor Point to the new transfer station really very green?

Blake Dickinson

President

Taxpayers Association of Jamestown

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