Letter: Charlestown has essentially banned ‘green’ energy

Letter: Charlestown has essentially banned ‘green’ energy


Out-going Charlestown Town Council member George Tremblay, a Charlestown Citizens Alliance stalwart, wrote a letter to the editor to the Westerly Sun on Thursday, Oct. 20, ‘Setting the record straight,’ defending the alliance’s record on wind power.

Many residents remember the horrible and divisive fight over the proposed commercial wind project known as Whalerock. Like many residents, I was happy to see the town take the most effective and fair route to ending this controversy by buying the land where the giant turbines were to be placed.

But along the way to that logical conclusion, many Charlestown residents dove deep into pseudo-science and NIMBYism to come to the conclusion that all wind power is bad. The result was Ordinance #344, which became part of Charlestown’s legal code.

Contrary to George Tremblay’s claims, Ordinance 344 changed Charlestown’s Land Use Regulations to make it impossible for anyone to construct or operate a wind-to-energy device of any size or type, even the small, do-it-yourself kit turbines that are so popular elsewhere in the country.

The section addressing “Residential Wind Energy Facilities” automatically bans any wind device taller than 125 feet or that produces more than 20 kilowatts.

It sets no minimum size or output. Indeed, the regulations say they cover “any proposed wind energy facility” and any device “regardless of height or rated capacity.”

All must acquire a building permit. Any device that goes more than 10 feet above the roofline must also get a Special Use Permit. The actual requirements for what a homeowner or farmer must do to apply for a building permit are truly amazing and should be read to be believed.

The practical effect of Charlestown Citizens Alliance-driven town regulations on wind energy is to ban the production of wind power in Charlestown by creating conditions that are impossible to meet.

If you don’t believe me, read the regulations.

If you don’t believe me, contact town building official Joe Warner and ask him what you would need to do to install a wind energy device to help power your home or business.

If you still don’t believe me, ask Joe how many permits he has issued for wind energy devices in Charlestown since Ordinance 344 was passed in November 2011.

George Tremblay describes that ordinance and the subsequent town regulations as “user-friendly.” However, anyone who actually reads the ordinance or simply asks Joe Warner how to get a wind energy device for their own home will discover that the Charlestown Citizens Alliance once again uses doublespeak to cover up what is an effective green energy ban.

Will Collette Charlestown

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