23 Aug 2014
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Spared From Another Boondoggle?

Does the Barringon Town Council's Monday vote against supporting legislation that would turn the East Bay Energy Consortium into a subsidiary of RIEDC seem prescient?

Spared From Another Boondoggle?

The Barrington Town Council voted on Monday against supporting legislation that would turn the volunteer-run East Bay Energy Consortium into a division of the RI Economic Development Corporation. Town Council Vice President Jeff Brenner said: “It just doesn’t smell right.”

Perhaps Brenner and the three councilors who voted with him had some foresight that turning EBEC into a state agency could create another “boondoggle” in Rhode Island. That’s what a story posted today on GoLocalProv.com is asking as well. 

Barrington Town Council President June Speakman, who also voted against supporting the legislation Monday night, said: “This has been a homegrown, grassroots movement that has done a tremendous amount of work. This is a vibrant, local group that seems to be transforming into something else."

Speakman said also that the energy consortium may have taken on a project that is too big for the nine communities to handle as volunteers. EBEC, thus, may be transforming into an organization that may be undermining the whole purpose of the nine communities collaborating together on a good concept.

The EBEC legislation was turned into a study commission in both the Senate and House Tuesday night, with a report due back in January, said Barrington Sen. David Bates in an email to Patch early this morning. Does that spare everyone from a future boondoggle?

Barrington Town Planner Phil Hervey doesn’t see it that way. He is an officer in the volunteer group from the nine East Bay cities and towns that have been working hard to make a wind energy project a reality. He sees the loss to Barrington of $200,000 a year in profits made from the wind energy project.

“Give us a chance,” Hervey said. “Just give us a chance.”

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