Better controls needed on state energy lending

It would be unfair to charge Jamestown’s Town Council with NIMBY-ism in relation to its decision to beg off further study of the feasibility of building a windmill on the island. More

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PBN Editorial

Better controls needed on state energy lending

Posted 9/3/12

It would be unfair to charge Jamestown’s Town Council with NIMBY-ism in relation to its decision to beg off further study of the feasibility of building a windmill on the island.

Sure, there are always people who would argue that a land-based wind energy turbine will bring down the value of their property. Or create noise pollution. Or harm migrating birds. And to greater and lesser degrees, those are all legitimate concerns.

And it is well within the town’s rights to back away from the project because it is worried about the true financial risk of building a turbine that may or may not last as long as it is supposed to in an energy market that has been transformed by the growth of domestic natural gas production.

What seems less justified, however, is the fact that Jamestown made the decision after spending $140,000 from a state Renewable Energy Fund grant to study the subject, in addition to $60,000 of its own.

Perhaps before the state goes around handing out money to study projects that never get built, and over which it has no say in whether the project moves forward, it should consider tightening the rules on loosening its purse strings.

Tell any municipality that if it does not go ahead with the project for which Renewable Energy Fund money has been granted, it must consider the grant a loan from the state, to be repaid so that other public bodies can see if they might benefit from a renewable energy project. Otherwise, the only people benefiting from this state appropriation will be the consultants paid to perform a shelved study. •

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