I was First Warden, which is head of our local government, from 2006-2014 – exactly the planning timeframe for the wind farm. There were a lot of meetings, hearings, discussions, both at the state legislature in Providence and on the island with year-round and seasonal residents.
It was an interesting time, and an important one. When you care about a place, you want to work for it. I was happy to be in that position. There will always be people who disagree with this or that, but I don’t think anybody had a problem with how the process was handled. What also made it a success was the local liaison between the company and the town, who we could go to and get answers to our questions. That person was Bryan Wilson
, who has a very high level of integrity on the island.
One of the big concerns in the process was about how the wind farm would affect birds. But two important things to remember are, one, that songbirds migrate at a height much higher than the turbines. And two, that they want to be flying over land, not the ocean.
And then there are sea ducks that come here in winter. But they only fly about 40-60 feet above the water. That’s not even as high as the platforms the turbines sit on. In one survey, they put radio transmitters on raptors, falcons mostly. They see the peregrines go out and perch on the deck of the turbine – actually to catch and eat sea ducks. I know of no record of one of those birds being struck by a turbine. So a lot of work has been done to study the effect of the wind farm on birds.