One small step for sustainability, one giant leap for…
Time will tell. But kudos to the Tiverton Town Council for kicking off what will only be months, if not years, worth of discussions on how we can harness (profitable) wind power here in town. About 30 people showed up for the workshop held last night to hear Professior Lefteris Pavlides of Roger Williams University give an educational and inspiration presentation entitled, "Wind Power Tiverton".
The Bottom Line: Wind power can be profitable and on equal cost footing with electricity produced in more traditional and carbon-laden ways. What you need is a location with ample (at least 7 meters per second) wind speed and a turbine size of at least 1.5 megawatts. Put that up and your making a profit from the first spin of the 12-ton blades. Even better – your electricity production costs will remain constant for at least 20 years.
Professor Pavlides shared insight from the recent wind power conference at URI where amongst other things, the Governor’s Office released the long-awaited wind power siting study (Note: This is a large file). This is the first step in achieving the Governor’s goal of getting 15% of the state power needs from renewable sources by 2012.
Some interested factoids shared during the Council Workshop presentation:
• The wind power siting study identifies locations both onshore and in coastal waters. If all the coastal water locations were developed, wind power would generate 75% of RI’s energy needs. If just the locations in waters between Little Compton and Middletown were developed, we would hit the statewide goal of 15%.
• Rhode Island exceeds the U.S. EPA’s ozone cap levels. To that end the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that wind power would avert 2,028 asthma attacks in New England each year.
• A Harvard University study found that pollution from Brayton Point Power Plant costs the region $500M a year in unnecessary spending (medical, environmental, etc.)
• Installing and maintaining wind turbines across the state and region means hundreds of new, local jobs.
Of course, concern over initial funding came up. There is more than one way to skin this cat according to Professor Pavlides. Everything from grants to partnering with other RI communities to create economies of scale and "bulk" purchasing power.
Stay tuned, there’s more to come on this. Council President Durfee asked to reach out to other RI communities exploring wind power, as well as connecting with Portsmouth Abbey on lessons learned. For us here in town, the next step – above and beyond thinking about potential sites to conduct feasibility studies with – is to SHOW OUR SUPPORT. Take a moment to drop a note to Council President Louise Durfee or Town Administrator Glen Steckman III and tell them you support wind power in Tiverton.
I’m curious, what are your feelings on wind power in Tiverton or Little Compton? Leave a comment and let’s start a discussion.