Portsmouth council to hear wind turbine update Monday

Portsmouth council to hear wind turbine update Monday

The Portsmouth wind turbine has been idle since June 2012.

The Portsmouth wind turbine has been idle since June 2012.
The Portsmouth wind turbine has been idle since June 2012.
PORTSMOUTH — The Town Council will get an update on the town’s broken wind turbine from Town Planner Gary Crosby Monday night. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Town Hall.

In 2007 voters approved a $3 million bond issue for the turbine, which sits behind the tennis courts at the high school. It’s been idle since June 2012 due to a broken gear box. The town has been weighing its options ever since.

In December the town received four responses for its request for proposals (RFP), “two of which were deemed worthy of further negotiations,” Mr. Crosby wrote in May 7 letter to the council. The town worked with both finalists into January to refine the details and to get the contract language as soon as possible, he wrote.

In February the town decided to focus more intensely on one of the proposals, but in early March “negotiations broke down as the respondent could not make good on the details of his earlier proposal,” Mr. Crosby said, adding that the town the shifted back to the other proposal that had been set aside.

“As of last week, these negotiations broke down as well, again due to the respondent not being able to make good on details of his earlier proposal,” he wrote.

Mr. Crosby went on to say that the town has received “some interest from parties that did not respond to the RFP but would be interested in responding in the future.”

The town’s next loan payment on the turbine is not due until December, so the town has “some time to leave the RFP out on the street a bit longer than last time,” Mr. Crosby said.

He requested the council’s “guidance on whether to put the RFP back out and begin the process anew.”

At a council meeting in February, Mr. Crosby discussed the different options available to the town. One was to have the town pay for the repairs to the gearbox and resume operation and ownership of the turbine, which would cost anywhere from $580,000 to $730,000. The town would continue to sell power to National Grid.

Also under this scenario, the town would enter into an operations and maintenance contract with a third-party service provider that would handle minor repairs and monitor the turbine. In addition, an insurance policy paid for by the town would cover any future problems with the turbine, he said.

Another option was for a developer to take down and replace the turbine at no charge, then lease the property from the town to cover the debt on the original turbine — about $2.3 million. This contractor would also enter into an agreement to sell power to National Grid.

Yet a third option was to remove the turbine and sell it for scrap metal.

Tax on marijuana sales

Also Monday night, council member David Gleason will request a discussion about the potential taxing of marijuana sales at the soon-to-be-opened Greenleaf Compassion Center on West Main Road.

“After a discussion with a member of the public and after speaking briefly with Ray Davis (coordinator of the Portsmouth Prevention Coalition), I am asking for the council to consider the potential of revenues generated by sales at the Compassion Center,” Mr. Gleason wrote in a May 6 letter to the council.

“I understand that this currently takes place in (California) and (Colorado) and that the funds could be used for prevention programs, additional funding for enforcement, general fund, etc.,” Mr. Gleason wrote. “I would like to see if there is support for the solicitor to investigate the legal ramifications and report back to the council.”

Action against Beach House?

The council will also consider a request from the police chief regarding a possible action against the Beach House bar in Island Park.

Following the arrests of 17 students for underage drinking at the Island Park nightclub, Police Chief Jeffrey Furtado has asked the council to hold a show-cause hearing to determine if any action should be taken against the establishment.

Seventeen Roger Williams University students were arrested for underage drinking at the Beach House shortly before midnight on April 25. An undercover officer was stationed at the club and saw several young adults who appeared to be under 21 consuming alcohol, police said. More officers and detectives entered the bar and began checking IDs, subsequently arresting the students. Several of them had used fake IDs to get into the bar, police said.

“I am requesting that the council consider scheduling a show case hearing to determine if any action should be taken against the liquor license, or licensee(s), of the Beach House Tavern, Chief Furtado stated in his May 6 letter to the council.

Other business

Also Monday night, the council:

• will get an update on the proposed tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge.

• will hear a request for a victualler license from Schultzy’s Snack Shack, 346 Park Ave.

• will hear from The Friends of Anne Hutchinson, a group that wants to donate stone benches to the Founder’s Brook Park and Anne Hutchinson Memorial located off Boyd’s Lane.


  1. The town has a major issue over turning a town asset over to a private company with a zero percent renewable energy bond. The town now has more issues over the special legislation and a vote taken at the same time for the bond- the real issue is the legal mess this turbine is in right now and the public is unaware of how bad the situation is !

    The turbine also has setback issues to the town water tank, school field and ice throw onto Rte 24

    Will the Town of Portsmouth will need special legislation as a requirement to both borrow money to pay removal costs and to potentially refinance tax-exempt bonds in case the turbines are resold to a non-governmental body. ?

    If a new commercial wind turbine is constructed what is the abutter notification and permit process for a private contractor ? What are the new setbacks to the town water tank, high school field and highway ?

    This is the year 2007 General Bond Bill for 3 million and Install a wind turbine at Portsmouth High School.

    Senate Bill S 0260


    House Bill 2007 — H 5217

    amended ”

    • Why doesn’t the Town Council share its concerns about the wind turbine with the general public ? The current location of the wind turbine has serious setback issues to the town water tank, high school field, local homes and the highway.

      I haven’t seen any public meetings that address the Senate Bill S 0260

      There are two major problems with the turbine right now.

      First -the turbine is as you know a total failure. The gear box as well as the three blades are no good.

      Second – The turbine is an asset of the town purchased with a 0 percent bond and voted for by the public for both the bond and the turbine in one single vote. Along with being broken the turbine is a financial legal mess and the public needs to understand why the legal mess .

      The Town Council needs to share the financial knot that the turbine is wrapped up in . Sooner or later people will catch on to how much more bad news is down the road about this turbine.

      The turbine originally on National Geographic in 2009 now it’s on the websites of every wind action group in the world on how not to build a wind turbine.

      • Bill I laugh every time I go over the bridge or coming back on 24 – it just sits there costing money.

        There used to be a hardcore group that defended this pariah but they seem to have lost their enthusiasm.

  2. The Portsmouth wind turbine was a failure long before it was installed. The wind industry was having major problems with gear box failures when they started producing larger megawatt turbines.

    The wind turbine according to the gear box investigation is sited too close to the town water tank, school field and Rte 24. Ice throw was noted as the main issue. The town water tank is a major issue for any private wind contractors liability. The poor setbacks are documented in the investigation.

    The residents living around the wind turbine have complained about shadow flicker for years. There are several utube videos showing the affect on residential homes. The town has done nothing about the shadow flicker or the possibility of ice throw.

    There have been two request for proposals sent out in the last year for a semi private partnership with the turbine. As more time goes along more and more residential homeowners are demanding their residential property rights.

    The town is in denial about the turbine. There are those in Portsmouth today that still believe the turbine can generate a revenue stream. The problem is if it’s repaired it all happens again in another three years. If it goes to a private contractor it would have to be rebuilt at another location with better setbacks.

    The entire country is watching the Portsmouth Town Council walking down the Yellow Brick Road heading to the Emerald City being led there by the Wizard of Oz.

    The project failed it’s over …….

    • Bill the failure reflects on the politicians and residents who sold this to the rest of the town which is why I believe they will do anything to resurrect this beast.

  3. The home owners at the North Kingstown Green subdivision, home of Rhode Islands largest commercial wind turbine. There is a question. Did the neighbors through a negotiated settlement get their electric bills paid for life, or a long period of time ( 10 to 20 years ? )

    North Kingstown Green subdivision Part of settlement had DePasquale paying subdv. Neighbors electric bills for either life, or a long period of time (10-20 yrs?)

    Why not the residents who live around the Portsmouth wind turbine ?