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RI's fight for renewable energy

green5inside

As demonstrated by National Grid's opposition to a key part of the plan for Allco Renewable's proposed solar farm in Cranston, moving forward with renewable energy in Rhode Island won't be without some fits and starts. Yet change is at hand, and in this week's Phoenix, I write about the push fior renewables:

Until now, the renewable approach in Rhode Island has been restricted to a few isolated efforts, like a wind turbine that was added a few years ago to reduce energy costs at the Portsmouth Abbey School. Similarly, it’s not particularly surprising that an environmentally attuned outfit, like the Southside Community Land Trust, a nonprofit in Providence, is partnering with People’s Power & Light to power its urban farm operation through renewable sources.
 
Now, however, in terms of other large-scale projects, Allco Renewable has proposed a wind farm that would involve hundreds of wind turbines off the coast of Block Island and Little Compton. An Australian firm, with state backing, has plans to create two wave-energy facilities. And state and labor officials are hopeful that a manufacturing facility for wind turbines, like those to be used at the Cape Wind project, could be established at Quonset Point.
 
Elsewhere around the state, Portsmouth, Barrington, Bristol, Warren, and Jamestown are among the growing number of communities, Auten says, that are pursuing plans for a municipal wind turbine. The 1.5 megawatt project in Portsmouth, on the grounds of the high school, will be enough to power the school while also producing considerable excess energy. 
 
Meanwhile, one of the bills under consideration at the State House would, through the concept known as net-metering, lower the utility costs of individuals who produce more energy than they consume, thereby offering an incentive for them to invest in solar panels or other renewable devices whose costs could otherwise prove prohibitive.
 
These days, with New Englanders reeling from their winter heating bills, and gas again selling for more than $3 a gallon, you don’t need to be an ardent environmentalist to appreciate the need for different approaches. There’s even some appealing poetry in how Rhode Island, which was left environmentally blighted by the bygone industrial revolution, is poised to reap economic benefits by going green.
 
A more muscular renewable sector won’t be a panacea for the state’s ongoing budget problems. Yet it could have a variety of beneficial effects, including the creation of thousands of good-paying jobs, diminished dependence on foreign oil, a stable and safe energy sources, and a positive impact on the environment.

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