DEM's Second Wind Turbine Opens in Narragansett

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — The second of three state-run wind turbines is officially generating power at a popular state park and campground.

The 117-foot-high, 100-kilowatt Northwind turbine is expected to generate about half the electricity for the nearly 18,000 seasonal campers at Fishermen's Memorial State Park.

"With flat-screen TVs and who knows what in these campers, we were losing money," Gov. Lincoln Chafee said during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Nov. 14.

Now the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) expects turn a profit at the campground after fees and green energy help offset the cost to run lights, electric hook-ups and sewage pump stations. An online dashboard showing energy usage will be available on the DEM website next spring.

The $688,000 turbine was built by Northern Power Systems of Barre, Vt and installed by Alteris Renewables. About $400,000 came from fines paid by American Electric Power Service for violating the Clean Air Act; $137,500 was provided by the state Economic Development Corporation's Renewable Energy Fund; and $150,600 was paid through federal stimulus money via the American Resource and Recovery Act.

The Fishermen's project is the second wind turbine installed by DEM in the past two years. A 10-kilowatt turbine went online in May 2010 at nearby Salty Brine Beach. The third, also a 10-kW turbine, is being built as part of renovations at East Matunuck State Beach in South Kingstown. It is expected to be running by Memorial Day.

"From many perspectives, this is an outstanding project," said Ken Payne, director of the state Office of Energy Resources. "First, it's just plain logical that the state's environmental agency should get energy from a renewable resource; second, this location is an iconic site fishermen know for the importance of a beacon to help them steer toward a safe harbor; and third, this is the intended use of Recovery Act funds.”