Monday, June 9, 2008

Wind and Recyclables: The New Cash Cows?

In cased you missed it, last week saw some decent activity and discussion on the sustainability front here in Tiverton.

First, last Tuesday the Town Council held another workshop on the possibility of wind power here in town. Lots of local turbine celebrities from Portsmouth helped paint a realistic picture of what it takes to make a municipal investment in wind a reality. I wasn’t there, but the Newport Daily News had good coverage. My understanding is that next steps is to have our Planning Office do some due diligence around scoping out a feasibility study.

With the right conditions and turbine/infrastructure set-up, wind is just about as cost effective as coal or natural gas. Where people get caught up is the cost. Yes, turbines don’t come cheap at a couple of million dollars a piece, but government incentives do exist (for the time being at least) And by the way folks at the State House are moving, a whole new slew of pro-renewable energy legislation is about to make it easier to develop these kinds of projects.

And if that wasn’t good enough, we have the Council also debating the idea of leveraging our curbside recyclable materials as a revenue stream. That thinking is so refreshing. Why pay a contractor to haul all of this stuff to the Central Landfill in Johnston, when you could try to sell it as source material to a local or regional manufacturer for profit. Thank you Councilman Edwards for being so proactive. Let’s see where this one leads.

What does all of this illustrate? In these difficult economic times (man, that last financial town meeting was a bruiser) we need to think beyond slash and burn budget tactics. We need to get our heads out of the trenches and try to see above the din of day-to-day dismay and think about ways we can make investments to either reduce core operating expenses like energy and/or generate revenue in out-of-the-box ways. (Note: I did not say big-box ways…)

I’d love to have the opportunity to spend a week observing day-to-day operations of our various town offices. I might be going out on a limb here, but I’m willing to bet that the opportunities to make proactive investments in technology and/or other operational features of the corporate world could payoff with a decent amount of ROI. Maybe the town could partner with a local business school to get some MBA students in there to do some free consulting for credit. That would be a fascinating exercise.


Tillerman said...

Hmmm. Looks like the Newport Daily News has found a way of leveraging their recyclable old articles as a revenue stream on the web.


tillerman, I take it you're talking about the absurd archived articles policy of the NDN? If so, I totally agree. This story was accessible when I did the post. Their policy is so archaic and quite the source of frustration -- for me at least. Is ad revenue that short in supply??

foulaideas said...

On the NDN: from file, select 'mail this page'. No more lost articles.
Sakonnet Times provides mostly reliable archiving and does provide access that is easily searched.
Catching the Council on Cox cablevision is really helpful for this last meeting. Three informative presentations! Wish they were available for those without Cox.
40% annual increases in Energy is a cost we can reduce in Town and Schools, as well as at home.
Good news at the State level on some interesting collaborations; bad news that conservation of open space, farmlands--just when more of us are finding the benefits of local produce--and water are losing.