Deepwater Wind, LLC (Deepwater Wind) is seeking permission from the New Shoreham Town Council to erect a 180- foot-tall meteorological tower on Block Island. The tower will be used to collect weather data which will help in deciding location of turbines for $1.5 billion wind farm off Rhode Island. The tower would be the first step in two- part plan of the company to install eight wind turbines within three miles of Block Island by 2012.

100 turbines would be built by the company in federal waters off the coast of Rhode Island several years later.

The temporary tower would be built near the entrance to the Great Salt Pond, on the west side of the island. The steel tower, about 10 to 14 inches in diameter, would stand for one to two years so that the company could collect data on wind direction, speed and frequency. These informations are critical in determining sites for the projects and securing financing to build them. 10 to 14 weeks time will be required to erect the tower once the approvals are granted.

We have to complete a very exhaustive study to determine where to locate these wind turbines, Clint Plummer, Deepwater’s vice president for development said.

The proposed height of the meteorological tower, said Plummer, is the bare minimum to collect usable data.

The temporary tower must also be on the coast and away from any hills or cliffs so as to mimic the conditions of a turbine out at sea.

In its application submitted to the town on February 11, 2009 the company proposed putting up the tower near the North Light. But the land at the very tip of the peninsula is owned by the Coast Guard. Directly south, the land is owned by the town, but it is protected by a conservation easement. Plummer said that it could be a lengthy permitting process to put the tower up in either location.

So Deepwater and consultants at AWS Truewind, LLC looked at sites on the west side of the island and then revised the plan.

Building the temporary tower near the Coast Guard station at the entrance to Great Salt Pond would require permission only from the Town Council and the state Coastal Resources Management Council. Plummer expects both processes to be relatively quick.

Plummer acknowledged that there has been some concern about the location of the meteorological tower on the island. He said that the company would listen to other suggestions for siting the tower.

With regard to all the monitoring equipment, it’s temporary in nature, Plummer said. We understand the community’s interest in this. We want the community to feel that we’ve been open and transparent.

The company has yet to order the wind measuring equipment.

Deepwater Wind has already installed other equipment to aid in its studies. A radar unit was installed on the Southeast Light to monitor bird migration routes, and Deepwater Wind is preparing to put a bat monitoring system on a communication tower owned by the town.

We have to complete a very exhaustive study to determine where to locate these wind turbines.