On Oct. 23, 2012, at the workshop on the Portsmouth wind turbine, it was apparent from Gary Crosby’s timeline of events that the Portsmouth Economic Development Committee did not know the first thing about choosing an appropriate turbine for this $3 million bond.
Even before we heard from the experts we learned that no site study had been conducted. That means that no matter what turbine or how many gear boxes are replaced that this site may be unacceptable due to wind shear and turbulence. Buying a series of gearboxes like the one that has failed is not the answer.
We also learned from Mr. Crosby that this wind turbine is a prototype with no proven track record. The Portsmouth Abbey, whose wind turbine merrily turns, warned against this design. The National Renewable Energy Lab has studied this very gearbox and has doubts about its reliability.
The idea that turbines produce free energy is a fallacy. Denmark is full of wind turbines. Most of the manufacturing has fled the country due to skyrocketing electric rates. The wind farm looming over Block Island may drive Toray Plastics on the West Bay south and make National Grid pull out of Rhode Island, laying off 1,000 workers. Can Rhode Island stand to lose anymore jobs?
We hope that the town is being run as a business. With the hiring of a new administrator, we believe that it is. We all thought that this turbine would be a money-maker. It’s not. It’s obviously a loser. The variables for this turbine will be kicked around among the experts and they will present their recommendations. After the site study is done, it may be prudent to make this wind turbine a cell tower, start from scratch and locate a new site. However, it may not be with this design.
We also learned from Mr. Crosby’s timeline that this turbine will not make money and be in the black until after the bond is paid off and after maintenance and repair costs. It is the taxpayers and the rate-payers who will pay more for electricity who should decide the future of this turbine. It should go back on the ballot. We got what we paid for, the cheap deal and now we may have to “eat” it.
Erica Greene Medley
Ms. Medley is a member of the Portsmouth Concerned Citizen’s Executive Committee and a past member of the Rhode Island State Wide Coalition’s Environmental Board. Her husband owns and operates a public utility.