I was brought up short the other evening while driving south on I-95 by a sudden braking of the cars in front of me, the usual rolling ripple effect caused by rubber necking an accident.
But it was no accident causing us all to slow down. It was the sudden appearance of the 100-kilowatt windmill at the New England Institute of Technology's campus next to the highway in Warwick.
It's quite a sight, a 156-foot tower topped by the boxed generator and three large black vanes. (They are black to attract heat and prevent ice build up in the winter.)
While the state already has two wind turbines turning away up in Portsmouth, the NEIT's windmill right on I-95 is an inspiring sight. And with communities and organizations, including schools, all over the state currently looking into raising their own windmills, it is surely a sign of the future.
Indeed, wind has always been a major resource in Rhode Island. The sea breezes drew New York's wealthy in the 19th century, leaving us with our astonishing Newport mansions. And sailing continues to be a leading sport and industry, employing thousands up and down the Bay.
And as for those who hold out against windmill on esthetic grounds, the same was said of the iconic Dutch windmills which were built to pump water to drain the low lying farmland behind the dykes, or sea walls.
Today, what would The Netherlands ("Lowlands") be without its windmills?
Peter C.T. Elsworth