Is Wind Energy the Way for Rhode Island?

BRISTOL, R.I._ “Wind energy is a good resource, especially for a state like Rhode Island” said Abigale Anthony, panelist at the Science Debate hosted last night, sponsored by Roger Williams University’s Hawk the Vote and Society of Professional Journalists. The four panelists discussed a variety of issues ranging from sustainability to education, women’s reproductive health to wind energy.

Roger Williams Univeristy's Hawk the Vote- Science Panel
Roger Williams Univeristy’s Hawk the Vote- Science Panel

The ocean state has been utilizing the coast, churning out wind turbines, providing an alternative energy source for Rhode Islanders as well as contributing to new jobs in the region.

“Rhode Island is doing a great job investing in energy efficiency, we have the highest energy efficiency saving statistics in the country,” Anthony said, “It would make a lot of sense for Portsmouth to restart their wind turbine.”

Despite much success with wind energy, a 336-foot broken wind turbine has sat idle on the Portsmouth High School grounds since it’s failure in June 2012.

“The Town Council’s concern is that even though the wind turbine isn’t turning, that mortgage keeps showing up every month,” said James Seveney, Portsmouth Town Council President, “You know, these things are supposed to last 15-20 years, this one failed after three and no one could definitively determine there was something inherently wrong with the gearbox, or whether it wasn’t installed just right.”

The town of Portsmouth commissioned the 1.5-megawatt turbine in March of 2009, where they paid three million dollars to the supplier, AAER Wind Energy of Quebec, whose bid was nearly one million dollars less than competitors. The Town of Portsmouth became one of the first consumers of AAER’s wind turbines.

Students gather at the Science Panel
Students gather at the Science Panel

AAER later went out of business, soon after the failure of the Portsmouth turbine, leaving the town without a warranty to fall back on.

Wind energy, an expensive and somewhat risky venture, can boast great benefits.

Deepwater Wind’s proposal to build five wind turbines off Block Island would act as the first offshore wind farm in the United States. The plan is that much closer to fruition after Deepwater Wind received approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, making the proposal reviewed and approved by a total of nine state and federal agencies.

“There is potential for wind energy in Rhode Island,” Anthony said.

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Students react to presentations by panelists
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Panelist, Max Green
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Panelist, Abigale Anthony
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Author: sabrinacaserta

Sabrina Caserta, born and bred in Bronx, New York, is a freelance reporter whose work has appeared in the New York Daily News and Street Sense- a homeless-run street paper located in the District. As a member of Roger Williams University’s class of 2016, Sabrina studied Journalism and Political Science. This fueled her passion for social justice reporting, including issues of homelessness, institutionalized racism, poverty, education and the environment. She also served as the Project Director of the nation-brand initiative, The Re:Imagine Jamaica Project, and as a Resident Assistant for three years. As an avid reader, health enthusiast and travel addict, Sabrina enjoys yoga, cooking and writing in her spare time. She aspires to one day be an investigative journalist and travel the world. Twitter: @sabrinacaserta Email: sabcaserta AT gmail DOT com

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