2017-11-22 / Editorial

Solar power smart venture for town

Many in town, including the town council, believe the island should be seeking some type of alternative energy solution.

While wind turbines were the talk of the council meeting a few weeks ago, that option seems far less viable based on the limited potential locations — Fort Getty or Beavertail — and the difficulty in connecting those sites to the existing power grid.

Previous talks about expanding the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority’s solar array project did not yield any results, but that is the direction the town should move toward.

Even though wind turbines are far more energy efficient, solar is a far more aesthetically pleasing option and less susceptible to damage. The move would show leadership on a crucial issue facing our society, as well as fit into the town’s ongoing sustainability efforts it kicked off a year ago.

There are a few viable sites the town could consider.

The Dutra farm off Route 138 was suggested during the RITBA conversations. It’s a great spot with plenty of land and from which the panels would not be seen. The owners seemed amenable to the possibility so, hopefully, the town could work out an arrangement.

As part of their necessary renovations, both schools need new roofs. They would be ideal locations and the panels could be incorporated into those replacement projects.

Lastly, the proposed library renovation also could incorporate solar panels into its framework.

None of these would come cheaply, but game-changing progress typically does come at a price, and putting the town on a path toward cleaner, more sustainable energy would be a difference-maker. Any of these options would set a positive tone and exemplify the forward-thinking agenda the council seems to want to embrace. The town’s financial house also is in excellent order and it has the wherewithal to make such a commitment.

So the means, motive and opportunity all exist at this moment in time — it would be a crime to let that chance slip away.

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