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Westerly is the site of the first wind farm in Rhode Island, which opened on December 5, 2008. The five turbines are expected to produce enough electricity for about 2,000 homes. The town was named after Westerly in England by settlers who sailed from there to America aboard the ship "Mary and John". It was one of many townships that were set off from neighboring communities; Charlestown (1648), Hopkinton (1729), Richmond (1749) and South Kingstown (1844). In 1661 it had a population of about 50 people living within its borders. By 1790 this number had increased more than tenfold to 540 residents recorded as living within Westerly's borders at that time.