Vote One Million To Fix Portsmouth Tu...

Vote One Million To Fix Portsmouth Turbine

Posted in the Newport Forum

Old Townie

Providence, RI

#1 Oct 13, 2012
The Portsmouth Town Council should vote a million dollar bond to fix the turbine. This is about being GREEN it's not about money! Do you want to keep breathing the coal smoke from Fall River?

The voters voted to build the turbine its time to do what the public voted for and fix the turbine !

Many think this is a phallic symbol but its more than that its a trophy !

The Portsmouth Town Council will hold a special meeting on Oct. 23 to discuss the options for dealing with the wind turbine at Portsmouth High School, which has been idle since June. Of the options outlined by the town administrator, which would you prefer to see?
Old Townie

Providence, RI

#2 Oct 13, 2012

Wind turbine posturing does Portsmouth no good

By Bruce Burdett / October 2, 2012 / 1 Comment

To the editor:

As a member of the subcommittee that was involved in the wind turbine project, I have refrained from responding to the unwarranted implication at the 24 September Town Council meeting that there were some “mistakes” made by the Portsmouth Economic Development Committee (PEDC) in the planning leading up to the construction of the wind turbine in Portsmouth. To do so would lend this politically-motivated accusation credibility.

That a subsequent proposal to have the PEDC investigate the decision-making process for “mistakes” was approved by all of our town councilors (two of whom are liaison members of the PEDC) was very disturbing. I have resigned from the PEDC because I feel that by accepting this proposal, the Town Council majority is trying to make use of the PEDC for their political gain. I refuse to be a party to such manipulation. It seems time to set the record straight.

I believe that no “mistakes” were made by the PEDC during the development process. The fact is that all the steps in the PEDC process were open to the public and all major decisions were brought to the Town Council for their vote. Any major decisions, therefore, were made by the Town Council after due discussion and public comments, which included those of the PCC. The process included analyses by respected wind energy consultants who noted no fatal flaws in the process and decisions. The entire process was freely open to public scrutiny and lasted well over two years.

In a town-wide referendum in November 2007, over 60 percent of Portsmouth voters approved of purchasing the wind turbine. A complete description of the process and its timelines, as well as the detailed feasibility study that was completed in 2004, is (and has always been) available on the PEDC website at

Since it became operational in March 2009, the wind turbine has netted over $400,000 in profits to the town after all expenses and loan payments were made. We would not have recommended this project if we didn’t expect to generate a constant flow of positive revenues for the town. Even with major repairs expected, positive revenues to the town are still anticipated in the future. Hindsight is always 20/20 and going back and reevaluating a process that started over six years ago is a waste of time. The Town Council and the PCC know this, but the PCC, with its constant flow of negativity about Portsmouth, is trying desperately to score political points prior to the November elections.

It is time that the town leadership stop posturing for their political base and get on with either repairing or replacing the wind turbine gearbox or partnering with a private wind energy developer who might consider taking over its management. While I realize that this is a complex decision and that we need to get it right going forward, the wind turbine has sat idle for too long. A primary job of the Town Council is to make decisions, one for which this council has proven to be especially inept. Looking backward serves no purpose other than delaying a decision, something this council has done all too frequently in the past.

Esmond D.(Doug) Smith

Old Townie

Providence, RI

#3 Oct 13, 2012

Posted on October 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I represent Portsmouth taxpayers and citizens. These people were not well served by Mr. Smith’s “Guest View”“Know the facts about the town’s wind turbine” in the October 12, 2012 Newport Daily News. I know Mr. Smith to be a well respected, honorable and productive Portsmouth citizen volunteer. He has tirelessly contributed much of his personal time to Portsmouth civic endeavors. Mr. Smith was a major contributor to the wind turbine project so there should be no surprise at his distress. However, the Portsmouth Economic Development Committee was only doing as instructed by the sitting Town Councils presiding at the time. The PEDC possesses no authority beyond a small budget, to risk taxpayer funds. Such authority lies solely with the sitting Town Council. Failure of the turbine is not a failure of the PEDC.

Although, as a citizen, I voted against the $3M referendum question to build the wind turbine, I was thoroughly interested in the construction challenges and viewed its subsequent operation with quiet pride. I am not against turning wind into electricity. I actually own a small wind turbine that charges batteries on my sailboat. I voted against the project because I did not believe that Portsmouth government possessed the unique expertise and credentialed personnel needed to successfully execute such a complex and therefore risky project.

The decision to ask voters to get into the wind business is the sole responsibility of the 2004 Democratic Town Council. The decision to buy the turbine taxpayers now own from the low bidder instead of going back to the voters for enough money to buy something other than a mongrel, was that of the 2006 Democratic Town Council. Three years into its projected 20 year life span, the machine has suffered a financially catastrophic mechanical failure. It is the duty of the present Town Council to ensure that it understands, to the best of its ability, the malfunction, cost to repair, and the risk and cost of additional failure, in order to choose the corrective action that best serves the people I represent and minimizes additional risk going forward. The likely big losses will impact everyone. The way I see it; this Council or the next has one chance to get it right.

Joseph W. Robicheau

Portsmouth Town Council, President
Bill Carson

Mattapoisett, MA

#4 Oct 16, 2012

The PEDC worked to dump any concerns of NIMBYs not in my back yard .Had very little concern over catastrophic failure overlooked Ice sling and said the higher the better .Most of the PEDC meetings went to counter what they called “misinformation”

Next is a list of people that gave positive information to the wind turbine. There is no company listed that gave any negative information.

The PEDC wishes to acknowledge the following organizations and individuals for their
support and the expertise and generosity of time they provided.

• The RI Energy Office, especially Commissioner Andy Dzykewicz and Program
Manager for Renewables, Julie Capobianco.Town of Portsmouth officials Dave Faucher, Bob Gilstein, Gary Crosby and Madeline Pencak. University of Massachusetts Renewable Energy Laboratory especially Sally Wright. Advanced Technology and Management, especially Dan Mendelsohn and Deborah
Crowley. Sustainable Energy Advantage, LLC, especially Dennis Loria Robert C. Grace and
Jason S. Gifford, and Richard Gross P.E. Jim Sweeney of Sustainable New Energy. Henry DuPont of Lorax Energy. American Wind Energy Association.TrueWinds. The Rhode Island Wind Alliance
Bill Carson

Mattapoisett, MA

#5 Oct 16, 2012

Portsmouth council candidates tilt over wind turbine
By Bruce Burdett / October 16, 2012 / Be the first to comment
PORTSMOUTH — As the blades of the broken Portsmouth wind turbine sit motionless, the device’s woes have become a hot topic among candidates for Town Council.

Disagreement has surfaced over what Portsmouth should do next and who’s to blame for the breakdowns.
Democrat Jim Seveney says the first priority should be getting the turbine running again.
“The town has engaged the best wind turbine expertise in the country to investigate the cause of the problem,” he said.“Once we have the facts, then we can move forward with corrective action. It’s a complex task, and taking some time to complete which has fueled much speculation and posturing.”
He said the council had been handling the situation well “up until this past meeting where the tone turned negative. This was unnecessary and unfortunate. It’s a premature rush to judgment by a few folks using 20/20 hindsight to assign blame.”
Mr. Seveney supported the decision to bring the turbine to Portsmouth.“The fact that the turbine has suffered an apparent failure of a complex mechanical component does not reflect negatively on the decision process, nor the analysis that supported the decision.”
Republican Judi Staven says she was opposed to the turbine project in the first place but believes the council is doing the right thing by undertaking a thorough study.
“There are some who would like us to purchase and install another gear box without looking into why it failed in the first place. From the info the council has received, this will cost at least $600,000. I am not willing to spend this kind of money unless I am assured that this will resolve the problem.”
“It’s clearly apparent that the 2006/2008 council did not give sufficient attention to providing the necessary assurance that the town was covered in the event of failure and parts were covered by warranties. This failure has severe financial implications to the town.”
Independent Allen Shers, a member of the town Economic Development Committee when the turbine was being studied, said the process was thorough and diligent.
Bill Carson

Mattapoisett, MA

#6 Oct 16, 2012
Since then, though, the turbine has been hit not only by mechanical woes but by lower kilowatt payback from National Grid. Also looming is the need to save perhaps $100,000 a year to cover the expected $1.7 million cost to refurbish the turbine after its 20-year working life.
For these reasons,“I thing the town should look at possibly privatizing the turbine … sharing both the costs and revenue with a partner. I don’t think the town should really be in the turbine business.”
For now, it is vital to get it running again, Mr. Shers said —“Like a used car, it has more value if it’s running.”
And a top priority for the town should be going back to National Grid, a company that promotes its embrace of green energy, for a better kilowatt deal.
He said it is disturbing to see politicians dividing on party lines over the issue.“We are where we are with this and choosing sides helps nobody … We need to get together and come up with answers … That’s why I’m running as an independent.”
Democrat Leonard Katzman said the town should take steps to get the turbine back online without
delay as soon as the recommendations are provided.” The path forward must be based on facts and
data, and not political posturing or pandering.”
He said he does not agree entirely with the way the council has handled the situation.“The council could have acted sooner to put in place readiness management of the known turbine maintenance lifespan issue. Proper planning may have mitigated some of the downtime, though he does agree with having the administrator conduct a study.“Unfortunately, some members of the council are now playing a finger-pointing blame game for obvious political reasons. Such behavior is unseemly, maligns the good name of decent Portsmouth citizen committee volunteers and harms the town’s ability to have open reasonable discussions on how best to resolve this complex issue.”
He said he “absolutely” supports the decision to build the turbine.“The turbine has been running in the black, cash-flow positive to the town every year including this past year with all the downtime. To date the turbine has netted over $400,000 in profits to the town after all expenses and loan payments. Even with the repairs we now face, positive future net revenue is still anticipated … Disparaging the turbine because of the repairs we now face would be like lamenting we ever left the horse and buggy behind the first time our car needed transmission work.”
Independent David Gleason said that photos from a report prepared by the maintenance contractor clearly show metal chips in the oil and some damage to the internal gears. This leads him to fear that merely replacing the gearbox “will not resolve the current problem for future reliability … especially if a failure analysis of the current situation is not undertaken.”
“I think that the existing Town Council has taken a wait and see approach and avoided a knee jerk response to jump in and buy one (or even two) new gearboxes, as has been proposed … While none of us want to look at an idle wind turbine, I think that this Council has not rushed to a decision, and I believe this was the proper decision.”
Bill Carson

Mattapoisett, MA

#7 Oct 16, 2012
She said she supports alternative energy but was not convinced after listening to presentations in 2006 “that this project would be cost effective. Now as a council member, I have my concerns and need to receive and digest the final report mentioned above. I would also like to receive a report from the PEDC,

Republican Keith Hamilton said the upcoming report will help guide “the best option going forward” and said he believes the council is right to pursue “a careful and thoughtful review of the status of the turbine … I did support the installation of the turbine but feel that we should have not gone with lowest bidder. The lowest bidder, who has never built a turbine, was not the best choice, but hindsight is always 20/20. We need to do a better job as a town and state in doing a better job of selecting our contractors.”

Democrat Robert Church said,“I believe the first thing needed is being done right now with a true industry expert finding the true cause of the failure. Portsmouth still has a $2 million note that we are still paying regardless of what happens next.”

"In general I approve of the way the council has handled it minus the blame game that comes around election time."He added that the committee that did the initial turbine work did so with "the best information available at the time."Democrat John Blaess said he thinks the council is on the right track,“however the recent negativity brought forward by the majority vote of the council is troubling. We need to respect those that worked countless hours on this project. Going forward, the council needs to put aside judgments and work together for a solution to this complex problem.”
He said he voted for the turbine —“It was a symbol for clean energy, and until it broke down was a point of pride for most of the citizens in Portsmouth. Future decisions must be based on facts, repair costs, and proper maintenance to make sure we don’t have this situation occur again.”
Democrat Michael Buddemeyer said,“We need to first get the answers as to why it has failed … Until then we can not make a decision, regardless of the rhetoric.
He believes the council was doing the right things,“Then, instead of pushing for a informed decision and resolution of the issue, the issue then became the process of why we decided to have this turbine in the first place and that was wrong and misguided.”
He did support, and still does, the turbine.“The green technology of the turbine is a good path and the process on how the town decided to put one here was through much study and diligence and I am proud of the efforts of the PEDC.”
Bill Carson

Mattapoisett, MA

#8 Oct 16, 2012
What's going on in Portsmouth is going on all over the world .When the turbines stop working the bunco scheme wind industry salesmen are long gone.Then the finger pointing starts !

Trailer for movie Windfall
Concerned Citizen

Providence, RI

#9 Oct 24, 2012
I'm going to have to agree with Bill Carson on this one .I just read the windmill report for Portsmouth.

I still wonder who is Bill Carson ? He's never at the town meetings ! What is this guys agenda ?

Portsmouth gets the disadvantages of wind energy ! The hard way !The taxpayers will be paying for years !

It's pretty ugly

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