The Majestic Beauty of Clean Energy


We made it back to Block Island, Rhode Island last week. I have been going there, on and off, for decades — the first time I visited was in 1972 with an American Youth Hostels bike trip. My second visit was in an open boat, with one of my brothers, in 1975. Then, as now, the island draws me in as an outpost in the sea, beyond the sight of the mainland (at least on a typically foggy day). Still some of the best scenery and beaches in the world, to my eye.  The Nature Conservancy calls Block Islands one of the “last great places” for nature on Earth.


This timeless island changes slowly; the Victorian downtown feels like an early 20th C seaside resort.

So how do I feel about the new wind turbines just offshore, adding a 21st Century techno-backdrop to the historic hotels?

I feel great. Sure, you can see the turbines looming over the town from Scotch Beach, but only if you look carefully. And if you look that carefully, you can also see the oil barges passing south of the Island with their fossil cargo. One might loom over the town more dramatically; the other looms more climatically.

I’ll take the view of the wind turbines any day. And not only that, the turbines (and the mainland cable) means they could shut down the noisy, stinky diesel power plant on the island.

We got to Block Island the old fashioned way — in a sailboat. It took just 29 hours from Nyack to Great Salt Pond — down the Hudson River and out around the south side of Long Island. Only three hours under power. We had to leave extra time on the way back, with light daytime winds (and good overnight winds) in the forecast — but the Atlantic treated us to a shoal of pilot whales and a free bluefish dinner off of Fire Island during our return trip. And a fair tide carried us most of the way back up the River to Nyack, with just one hour of running under power.

Total fuel consumption for the round trip; about three gallons of diesel. My half share of the fuel equals about 30 pounds of CO2 for our vacation at the seaside.



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