Some years ago, back before it included two giant cooling towers, when I’d take that turn on Route 24 in Portsmouth that brings the Brayton Point power plant into view, I’d wonder how different it would feel if the structure in the distance were a medieval castle or something.
On the same stretch of highway, two separate wind turbines sit not far from the road, spinning away. As suburban novelties, they bring almost a country feel, as if a couple of farmers installed them on their copious land to supplement their energy. (Although, I’ll admit that driving through there at certain times of day is a little more unsettling than it used to be, because the flicker of the blades does spur a reaction.)
Reading Alex Kuffner’s Providence Journal article on proliferating turbines, along with the panic among local municipalities as solar companies swoop in more aggressively than expected, makes me wonder if we’ve really thought out how all of this fashionable renewable energy will change the character of Rhode Island:
The wind turbines appear up ahead as you drive west on Route 6, rising high on a hill over Johnston.
In a matter of weeks, Green Development, of North Kingstown, has installed six of the German-made behemoths that each stand 524 feet tall when their blade tips are at their highest point — higher than the Industrial Trust building in Providence.
They aren’t buildings, of course, but that’s essentially a few city blocks worth of whirling skyscrapers. Add in the replacement of forested areas with fields of black solar panels, and the Ocean State will start to feel very different.
We should probably start thinking about that. After all, we’re not only tolerating the change, we’re subsidizing it heavily through our taxes and our electric rates.