Library from Rhode Island
Middletown Councilor Bruce Long proposed the measure as a way to give the town some cover while planners look to strengthen the town's existing wind turbine ordinance, now more than a year old, to address such issues as identifying sites for industrial grade turbines outside residential areas, safe setback distances and other design considerations.
The order comes after new state Attorney General Peter Kilmartin recently pulled out of the appeal, which his predecessor, Patrick Lynch, had initiated with CLF and the other two appellants. Kilmartin, a longtime member of the General Assembly, supports the wind farm, proposed for within three miles of Block Island, and agrees it will be an economic plus for the state.
The project would have to be underway by March 31, 2012, which the Town Council decided was not possible given the many decisions and approvals such an effort would entail. The state would not allow the town to use any of the funds for a feasibility study.
After the division looked into the matter, on Feb. 2, the staff issued a memorandum saying that the 1.5-megawatt turbine installed in 2009 should never have been allowed to qualify as a “net-metering” facility that could sell its electricity into the regional power grid at a retail rate. They recommended that Portsmouth be paid at a lower, wholesale rate. Portsmouth has been paid as much as 11.4 cents per kilowatt-hour for power from the turbine.
If the Rhode Island Supreme Court moves forward with a case involving Deepwater Wind, Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg will take part despite her husband's past work as a lobbyist for the offshore wind developer. On Feb. 11, the court denied a motion that asked Justice Goldberg to be removed from the case. The order notes that Justice Goldberg did not participate in the decision.
In an order issued Monday, the court directed the Conservation Law Foundation, Toray Plastics (America) and Polytop Corp. to file briefs defending their legal standing no later than March 10. The three are appealing a decision by the R.I. Public Utilities Commission to approve a contract between National Grid and wind farm developer Deepwater Wind.
The town Planning Commission Thursday night declined to rule on a revised application for a controversial wind turbine at Stamp Farm until it knows who the manufacturer will be.
Deepwater Wind's initial project will raise state and local governments' electric bills by a combined $1.5 million in its first year, according to documents reviewed by the Target 12 Investigators. Municipal electric bills will increase by a total of $1 million while state government's bill will rise by $476,630, according to an estimate commissioned by National Grid from Energy Security Analysis Inc. The cost would rise by 3.5 percent every year for the next two decades.
The Conservation Law Foundation and the industrial groups Toray Plastics and Polytop Corp. restate many of the arguments they made in their initial filings to the court. These are the last submissions before the Supreme Court schedules oral arguments, expected to take place in the spring. Also on Friday new state Attorney General Peter Kilmartin followed through on his pledge to end his office's role in the appeal.
Municipalities trying to determine appropriate sites for turbines must deal with issues related to noise, light flicker and setbacks from nearby properties, among others. The General Assembly asked the Division of Planning to draw up siting guidelines in 2007, a year after Portsmouth Abbey installed the first wind turbine in the state. Since then, four other large turbines have been put up - another in Portsmouth, one in Middletown and two in Warwick.
Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin has dropped the petition filed by his predecessor that asked the state Supreme Court to overturn a key approval for a wind farm planned in waters off Block Island. The move, which has been expected for months, does not end the case. Three other parties also appealed the decision in August.
The Portsmouth turbine could not be set up behind an electric meter because of the layout of power lines and other equipment at the high school site. The turbine was instead installed directly into National Grid's distribution system. None of the power is used at the high school. Instead, all of it is sold to National Grid.
The turbine had been working fine after recent repairs but shut down abruptly on Sunday, Jan. 23, at 4 a.m. when a power outage hit that part of Portsmouth. After the power goes out, the turbine must be re-started manually, Assistant Town Planner Gary Crosby said, and that needs to happen within about three hours or the batteries will drain.
On Jan. 10, the Town Council passed a six-month moratorium on new wind turbines to allow time for North Kingstown to create a new wind-energy ordinance. The move came after two proposals for large turbines stirred vigorous opposition in town. Town Manager Michael Embury said local officials were meeting to discuss the ordinance when they decided it made more sense to wait for uniform standards for wind turbines.
The construction of Deepwater Wind's Block Island offshore project later than planned as a result of a court challenge to its PPA with National Grid. The court case centres on the Rhode Island attorney general's decision in August to request the Supreme Court abolish the project's power purchase agreement with National Grid.
The following is a memorandum of law prepared by the Advocacy Section of the Rhode Island division of public utilities and carriers. The memo relates to a complaint filed by Rhode Island resident Benjamin Riggs involving a wind turbine installed and operated by the Town of Portsmouth.
This investigative report by Jim Hummel of the Hummel report reveals the high cost of net metering in Rhode Island. The report with full transcript can be found here. Duration: 6 minutes 3 seconds
Previously the company has said it wants wind turbines spinning by the end of 2012 when federal tax credits worth millions of dollars are set to expire. The farm, with six to eight turbines, would sit about three miles off the coast of Block Island.
The opponents of a controversial proposal for two tall wind turbines, poking from the tree line near Route 295, were prepared to criticize the project Thursday night. But the Zoning Board of Review voted to wait at least 90 days to resume the public hearing on the proposal, citing the need to gather more information.
Windsor said that she suggested a moratorium earlier in the month to allow the Planning Commission time to adequately address the issue. Ultimately, the Council agreed that the commission needs to move as quickly as possible to address the issue as part of the Jamestown Comprehensive Community Plan.