Environment Council of Rhode Island

...building an ecologically healthy future in a sustainable economy

Resolution Regarding Land-Based Wind Power Siting

Pub Date: 
Monday, June 7, 2010

Adopted on June 7, 2010

Whereas the Environment Council of Rhode Island (ECRI) believes the development of large- and small-scale renewable energy projects is critical to meeting utility emissions reduction goals; and that cost-effective, reliable, clean, renewable energy is critical to meeting the challenges of global climate change and local environmental and economic challenges in Rhode Island and to providing long term energy stability and security for our state; and

Whereas ECRI supports the State of Rhode Island's Renewable Energy Standard of a minimum of 16% of electricity sold in the state should be generated by renewable sources, such as wind energy, by 2016; and

Whereas it is important for wind turbine project developers to have a fair, clear process in place to provide predictability and clarity regarding permitting requirements; and

Whereas there are multiple Federal standards and guidelines that can be used as models for the development of standards in Rhode Island; and

Whereas the State of Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has performed a review of regulations in other jurisdictions and in 2009 produced the Terrestrial Wind Turbine Siting Report.

Whereas in January 2006, the State of Rhode Island established the RIWINDS program to promote the development of wind energy in the state. Shortly after this time, the Governor set an ambitious goal of obtaining 20% of the state's renewable energy resources by 2011, and in 2007 the DEM developed the RIWINDS report that evaluated the entire state, including offshore waters, to identify the most viable areas for wind energy development and assess the potential energy generation associated with these areas; and

Whereas communities across Rhode Island are independently developing zoning criteria for wind turbine siting, without any state-wide standard, process or guidance;

Therefore be it resolved that the Environment Council of Rhode Island at its June 2010 meeting calls upon state agencies to give all due considerations to the following:

· The State of Rhode Island should develop predictable and reasonable state wind energy siting and permitting standards and model municipal zoning and permitting ordinances for wind energy.

· The State of Rhode Island should encourage a permitting process that both safeguards neighborhoods and habitats while allowing for a predictable and reasonable process for wind energy siting.

· Wind energy project standards should also account for different sizes and scales of proposed projects. The standards should account for the differences between “retail” (i.e. “behind the meter” wind projects which offset retail electric rates and other utility charges) and “wholesale” (i.e. operated for sale of power to the electrical utility grid). These standards should consider Federal models and the experiences of other states in which wind projects are being developed in a responsible manner.

· Development of standards and subsequent permitting should provide for reasonable opportunity for public review and comment on siting decisions.