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RI picks Chevron for Narragansett wind project

Tue, 12/22/2009 - 10:12am
ERIC TUCKER - Associated Press Writer - Associated Press

Rhode Island has selected Chevron Energy Solutions to develop and maintain several onshore wind turbines in the coastal town of Narragansett, Gov. Don Carcieri announced Tuesday.

Chevron's proposal beat out bids from three other firms. It plans to finance the site work and turbine construction without funding from the town or state, Carcieri's office said.

Current plans call for the turbines to be built on four sites owned by either the town or the state. The first turbine could be finished by the end of next year, said Department of Environmental Management director W. Michael Sullivan.

"They were from an economic analysis both the strongest company, and they put more money for the state and the community on the table than anyone else," Sullivan said.

Each turbine is expected to cost between $3 million to $3.5 million, Sullivan said.

The precise number of turbines hasn't been determined. The state initially selected five sites in Narragansett - a coastal town in southeastern Rhode Island - but withdrew one after determining it wouldn't be feasible. The remaining four properties include a wastewater treatment facility near Scarborough State Beach and a Department of Public Works site.

Representatives from Chevron Energy Solutions, a clean energy company and a subsidiary of energy giant Chevron Corp., did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

In a statement, Carcieri called Chevron a "proven leader in renewable energy" and said wind was the proven best source available for renewable energy.

The turbines are separate from a larger wind farm that Carcieri has proposed building miles off Block Island and that could be capable of generating about 15 percent of the state's electricity.

Last summer, the town and state sent surveys to around 800 randomly selected Narragansett residents to gauge public reaction to the proposal. More than three-quarters reacted favorably to the proposed turbines, Sullivan said.

John Torgan, of the environmental group Save the Bay, said his organization embraced wind energy but wanted to make sure that sites for turbines were selected in as transparent a method as possible.

"In many ways, we're pioneering this for Rhode Island and for coastal areas. We don't have a lot of precedent, at least in Rhode Island, how to go on to develop these facilities. That's been part of the challenge," Torgan said.

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