Tea Party In Rhode Island Supports Wind Power

Editor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of ecoRI News. Author credit goes to Tim Faulkner.

Who woulda thunk it?

The Tea Party, which generally opposes any legislation that favors the environment or is considered “green,” seems to have found common ground with tree huggers on at least one issue.

Wind energy, at least the home-generated type, was endorsed by the Rhode Island Tea Party during an April 5 hearing on a bill (pdf) to set statewide standards for residential, small-scale turbines.

Image via Southwest Windpower

“It’s in keeping with our ideals of keeping things local and keeping things in the hands of citizens,” said Michael Puyana of the Rhode Island Tea Party.

Puyana also endorsed the legislation, he said, because it promotes individual choice and free-market principles.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. John Carnevale, D-Johnston/Providence, sets statewide regulations for the residential turbines, which several communities have recently prohibited or restricted. The proposed guidelines specify ordinances for rooftop and pole-mounted turbines, most of which can be bought online or at building supply stores.

The standards set a 10-kilowatt power limit, or enough electricity to turn on a hunded 100-watt light bulbs.

The maximum height would be determined by lot size. But the proposed rules generally allow pole-mounted turbines up to 80 feet on a lot between a quarter of an acre to an acre, and higher for larger lots. Any guide wires must be at least 10 feet from a property line, and a fall zone of at least 1.5 times the diameter of the blades is also required. A braking system or feathering system also is mandatory, to reduce risk of damage during high winds.

Of course, an inspection and permit are required from the city or town with fees up to $150.

Newport, North Kingstown and Charlestown currently have a moratoriums or ban on industrial wind turbines, which were put in place to curtail larger turbine projects until new standards are written.

Carnevale corrected a misconception that his bill competes with a separate project by the state Division of Planning to set wind regulations. The other project, he said, is setting standards for much larger turbines.

Addressing other common objections about wind power, he noted that residential turbines are 75 percent quieter than a window air conditioner. The turbines are not known to fall or break apart. Falling tree branches pose more of a hazard than detached blades, he said.

Robert Pingitore of Johnston testified that he reduced his electric bill by some 40 percent since installing a 44-foot-high turbine in 2008. With the help of a federal tax credit, the $5,280 turbine paid for itself in about 16 months. Smaller turbines cost about $600, he said.

The town of Johnston had no guidelines for installing turbines, but with assistance from town officials, Pingitore was able to get his turbine up and running. He now has plans to add a 90-foot-high turbine.

Pingitore cautioned that not all homes are suitable for wind power. But he recommended those with higher elevations or that sit near bodies of water to consider turbines. To help meet demand, the state needs to make it easier for homeowners by setting universal building codes, he said.

“We have nothing on the books and it’s about time we start thinking about the future of renewable energy,” Pingitore said.

The House Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources voted to hold the bill until a later hearing.

A House bill (pdf) to reinstate a 25 percent renewable energy tax credit for wind, solar and geothermal residential systems will be held April 24.

ecoRI News is the journalistic arm of ecoRI Inc. and is dedicated to the advancement of environmental and social justice issues that impact Rhode Island. It is devoted to protecting the Ocean State’s ecosystems, natural resources and public health through independent journalism.


  • Reply April 10, 2012



    Some residents of Falmouth, Mass. say they’re suffering headaches, insomnia and depression because of a 400-foot tall town-owned wind turbine that began operating there last year. Most scientists say wind turbines don’t cause health problems, but the experience of residents has strengthened anti-wind sentiment in the region. WGBH’s Sean Corcoran and Climatide’s Heather Goldstone investigate the science and politics of The Falmouth Experience.

    Part One: Life Under The Blades

    Encouraged by the Patrick Administration’s goal to expand wind power, communities across the commonwealth are considering or constructing wind turbines. In the town of Falmouth, MA, some residents say a 400-foot tall turbine installed last year has changed their lives — and not for the better.Extended Interview: ‘You can’t be forcing these on people’Climatide Analysis: Wind energy: The onshore-offshore connection

    Part Two: Sick From The NoiseSome residents of Falmouth say the sounds coming from a large, town-owned wind turbine are making them sick. While turbines are not silent, claims of health impacts, including sleep disruption, headaches, ringing in the ears, and depression, are often controversial. And there’s limited scientific data to resolve the debate.Extended Interview: ‘It put me into depression’Climatide Analysis: Debating the future of renewable energy

    Part Three: Flickering Light Residents in the town of Falmouth say that a nearly 400-foot wind turbine has severely impacted their quality of life. They talk about noise and health issues, but sound isn’t the only thing generating discontent. There also are complaints about a phenomenon called ‘shadow flicker’.Climatide Analysis: Is annoyance a health impact?

  • Reply April 30, 2012

    Mark Smiley

    Frankly, I would have thunk it.  Reality is that the Tea Party movement is in no way anti-green, it’s anti-government control of everything and most green movements have already crawled into bed with the government by the time anyone else even hears about the movement.  That’s why you might think the Tea Party is anti-green, but i reality it is far from the truth.  Want the Tea Party’s support on something?  Devise a way through the free market to accomplish your goal and keep government regulators out of the process.  The other way of saying the exact same thing is, create your own business.  The Tea Party will be all for you.

  • Reply April 30, 2012


    the government is making a big problem out of proven technology that is over 100 years old, please stop the government tyrants before they castrate you all

  • Reply April 30, 2012

    Adam @ WTPofRI

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