Wind farm sites under scrutiny

Mon, 10/01/2007 - 5:00am
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Local communities from around the state voiced concerns about the effects a large offshore wind farm could have on maritime traffic at a stakeholder’s meeting scheduled by Governor Donald Carcieri and his chief energy advisor last week.

Questions included whether the offshore sites that seem most favorable in terms of potential energy generation would get in the way of the military submarine traffic that passes through the state’s waters. Lights on the turbines could blind ship captains, said one representative, while another wondered whether the turbines would steal the coastal winds needed for recreational sailing.

It was the second meeting for the 35 stakeholders in the governor’s ambitious plan to create a $1.2-billion wind farm that would generate enough renewable energy to meet 15 percent of Rhode Island’s needs.

Andrew Dzykewicz, commissioner of the state Office of Energy Resources, said the meeting was designed to “bring out all of the issues from all of the stakeholders. Having identified them, we will try to address them by the next meeting.”

Dzykewicz said the governor is hoping the group will be able to decide which of the 11 sites identified in a study would work best at that meeting, set for late October.

The group is looking for “the best return, and the highest degree of public acceptance,” he said.

The state legislature has so far declined to create a state power authority that could bond the project, as well as trade electricity. Dzykewicz said he hopes a private company will step forward to fund the project.

—Pippa Jac