Friday, January 2, 2009

Portsmouth 2, Tiverton 0

The score is in and it doesn't look good for the home team. A recent email news update from People's Power & Light (where we participate in the New England GreenStart program) highlighted progress at the new wind turbine installation happening in Portsmouth. The first in the state to be owned exclusively by a municipality, this new tower will be located at the high school within gazing distance of its well-known predecessor at Portsmouth Abbey.

According to the newsletter, this installation will save the town more than $4 million over the 20-year lifetime of the turbine. Cha-ching.

It would now be easy to criticize the Tiverton establishment for its lack of action. But the truth is it takes a LOT of work to explore – never mind build -- one of these things (I know, I've tried to kick-start a group). Based on what I know, talk of exploration has been on again, off again for several years. It needs to be made a priority by some entity within town government and the charge made to move forward.

With each passing year, we lose the opportunity to put a stake in the ground and move forward. But with the renewal of the federal production tax credits (to help offset the cost of a project) the time has never been better to build. Yes, we need to investigate whether we have good candidate sites for towers (wind maps show promise); and yes, paying for one (or more) would probably entail a bond. That being said, we need to view all of this as a long-term investment -- from the point of view of both our operational budget and local environment. We need to change the perspective from reactive to pro-active.

Based on the conversation from the last post, maybe the only way this is going to happen is by private investment. I’m not sure. It could be through an eco-village, it could be from an enterprising local farmer, or it could be by our town. Anyone care to wager a bet?

You can read more about the turbine at the Portsmouth town website.

(Photo by Bob Thayer, Providence Journal)