GLOCESTER, RI – Governor Lincoln D. Chafee will tour Chepachet Village in Glocester May 17 to see the newly rebuilt Chepachet River Bridge and meet with the Glocester Resource Commission (GRC) regarding plans to install hydro-electric generators on various rivers in Glocester.
He will be accompanied on the visit by State Representative Michael Chippendale (R-Coventry, Foster, Glocester,).
Chippendale has been working with the GRC for several years on the hydro-electric projects. The initiative gains new strength with the Governor’s unveiling this week of a plan to use hydro-electricity in Rhode Island’s “power-source portfolio.”
Chippendale said that that Glocester is one of only a handful of towns in the state to have any such projects underway.
“The type of projects that the GRC is working on can develop important and economic hydro-electric power generation for the town, much like the waterwheel that once spun on Steere Farm and was used to light all of the street lights on Chepachet’s Main Street until electricity was brought into town on power lines, ” Chippendale said.
“RI has over 600 dams that are hydro-potential,” said Chippendale, “and based on the work done by the GRC, there are few obstacles to harness this clean and relatively abundant source of power.
“But right now, there are only seven hydro-electric installations in RI, a meager one percent of the potential. We can do a lot better,” he said.
Linda Nichols of the GRC said government has been as much a problem as a solution, and thanked the Governor for his interest.
“We’ve met on several occasions with Representative Chippendale, and with multiple state agencies, to get this done. We’ve worked with our congressional delegates to try to get the Federal Government to relax the overly burdensome and extremely expensive permitting that is required by FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission).
“Believe it or not, we would have to spend the same amount of time and money to get a permit for a dam in Glocester that would produce enough electricity to light six light bulbs as we would have to spend to build a project the size of the Hoover Dam! FERC makes no distinction between the two types of projects,” Nichols said.
Chippendale said the General Assembly’s House Environment and Natural Resources Committee have listened carefully to the Governor’s plan to seize hydro-electricity for use in Rhode Island.
“This is an opportunity to have the governor visit Glocester, and see first-hand what the GRC has achieved so far.
“The Governor, to his credit, was eager to speak with the GRC, and that’s a good thing. I believe the only way we can work ‘outside the box’ and start to do things that haven’t been done in RI for nearly a century is for all parties at all levels of government to work together.
“I envision Chepachet, with the leadership of the GRC, as a showcase: a small New England village with a robust economy, fueled at least in part by clean, nearly-free water-generated electric power,” Chippendale said.
For more information, contact:
Chuck Newton, House Minority Office
State House Room 106
Providence, RI 02903
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