2017-11-09 / News

Turbine talks resurface as bond is extinguished

BY TIM RIEL


The town’s 2012 rendering of the proposed 2-megawatt turbine at Taylor Point from North Road. The town’s 2012 rendering of the proposed 2-megawatt turbine at Taylor Point from North Road. Although the town councilors quashed a $6.5 million bond to erect a wind turbine at Taylor Point, a discussion about renewable energy resurfaced at Monday night’s public hearing.

The bond, which narrowly was approved by voters in November 2010, had reached its seven-year anniversary, which is the state deadline to terminate bonds without legislative action.

“The debt has not been engaged, but it’s been earmarked and held against us,” Town Administrator Andy Nota said. “Unless the council wants to move forward with the project, it makes sense to extinguish the bond.”

William Smith III, a Hull Cove resident who has operated a residential windmill since 1976, sat on the wind committee that studied the feasibility of the turbine. While he supported extinguishing the bond because Taylor Point was less advantageous than Fort Getty, Smith urged the council not to abandon wind power. He said the 2010 vote was a referendum against nuclear waste, mercury and coal ash, which are by-products of traditional energy production.

Harley Lee, a Spanker Street resident who was a consultant during the turbine debate, also spoke in favor of a proactive green approach. He mentioned climate change as a leading factor.

“I was driving down North Road on Sunday, and without a storm or wind, the ocean was on our road,” he said. “It’s inching up bit by bit.”

Lee also suggested Fort Getty as an alternative site for a potential turbine.

“We could become a net-zero community,” he said. “That would be a good goal to set for ourselves.”

Kristine Trocki, council president, said terminating the bond doesn’t preclude the town from pursuing another project in the future. Moreover, the town is always looking into the “latest and greatest” options. “We just haven’t found the perfect match yet,” she said.

Councilman Gene Mihaly, who echoed Smith’s urgency, pointed to solar power. “The need is huge and pressing,” he said. “We have to treat this as an urgent imperative.”

Councilman Blake Dickinson said the town actively is vetting projects. “We do explore ways,” he said. “When we find something that will feasibly work for us, we will support it.”

Mike White, council vice president, said there are successful wind machines throughout the state. With new and improved technology, however, the town needs to repeat its due diligence. “By voting to extinguish this bond, we are not saying wind energy is dead in Jamestown,” he said. “But there are better ways to go about things.”

Councilwoman Mary Meagher made the council’s support unanimous. “This is the first step in seeking other sources of alternative energy,” she said.

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