Library from Rhode Island
Vineyard Wind already agreed to a nearly $17 million mitigation package in Rhode Island. But it doesn’t look like that will be enough. The fishing industry still has many issues. For example, the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association is worried about the effect these giant towers could have on boat radar, and the impediments that transmission cables could cause.
Locally, Massachusetts and Rhode Island commercial and recreation fishermen continue to be concerned about the lack of habitat and fish studies before development starts in wind farm lease areas.
Najarian also criticized the company’s defense of the shadow flicker, disagreeing with the argument that a projected 10 hours of flicker per year for some neighbors fell well within an industry standard that considers up to 30 hours an acceptable amount. “Why should an abutting resident be expected to find one minute of flicker acceptable, never mind 10 hours?” he said.
The Department of Planning & Development recently issued a cease-and-desist order to an unauthorized solar installation off Carr’s Trail. The June 4 notice issued to 394 Carr’s Realty LLC and WED Coventry Seven LLC — a subsidiary of North Kingstown-based Green Development LLC, formerly Wind Energy Development LLC, founded by Mark DePasquale — claims a recent site inspection by two members of the Department of Planning & Development found “hundreds of piles had been driven into the ground commencing construction of a proposed solar generating facility that had been denied development plan approval by the Coventry Planning Commission” two years ago.
Although the three commission members all voted to approve the agreement, they each acknowledged the risks associated with the wind farm and the uncertainties surrounding the benefits to electric customers. If the price of certificates representing the environmental benefits of renewable energy fails to increase as projected, then the contract could cost consumers in the long run, said commissioner Abigail Anthony. Additionally, much of the savings are expected to come on windy winter days when the wind farm is expected to displace more expensive oil generators or natural gas-burning plants that may charge a premium. If those savings are lower, the net benefits may be too, Anthony said.
In addition to the company, board members heard from residents, including Nicole Valliere, who purchased the house immediately next door to the Pacheco property for $925,000 in March. Valliere told board members she was not aware of the turbine plans until after the sale closed and would never have purchased the property if the information was available. “We had no idea this was happening,” she said. “We never, ever, ever would’ve purchased our home.”
National Grid Rhode Island, the state’s main electricity distributor, is seeking the commission’s approval of its contract with Orsted US Offshore Wind to supply 400 megawatts of electricity from its Revolution Wind project in federal waters off the Rhode Island coast. The estimated cost of the project is about $1 billion.
At 462.5 feet, the proposed wind turbine is about 430 feet taller than the maximum 35-foot height currently allowed by the town zoning ordinance, so the developer will have to seek a dimensional variance in order to move forward to the next stage of the application. The developer also needs a special use permit to construct a wind turbine in a residential agricultural district.
The Cranston City Council says it will not pursue legal action over new wind turbines in neighboring Johnston.
Lanny Dellinger, chairman of the Fishermen’s Advisory Board (FAB), and Grover Fugate, executive director of the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), admitted that Vineyard Wind had the leverage in negotiations and that agreeing to a slightly improved compensation offer is better than no deal at all.
In a unanimous vote at the special meeting, the Fishermen’s Advisory Board accepted the new offer that includes $4.2 million in payments over 30 years for direct impacts to commercial fishermen from Vineyard Wind’s 84-turbine wind farm proposed in Rhode Island Sound, as well as the creation of a $12.5-million trust set up over five years that could be used to cover additional costs to fishermen resulting from the project.
Rich Fuka, spokesperson for the Rhode Island Fishermen's Alliance, when asked how to balance out the need for renewable energy versus the needs of the fishing industry in Rhode Island, responded by saying, "That's my favorite question. You let the real players, real stakeholders, sit at the table and say, “Look, here's what we have for a fishing industry. Can you move those windmills out further across from the squid stocks?' The answer is: it's not cost effective."
A group of seven wind turbines in Johnston was just turned on in January, yet they’re already causing some blowback from neighbors across the city line in Cranston. "It's a little unnerving that all of a sudden, 519-foot structures can end up right near your home, and no one knows anything,” said Renee Petrone, who lives in the Alpine Estates neighborhood of Cranston and can clearly see the turbines from her home.
The disagreement over Vineyard Wind’s waiver concerns a technicality in New England’s power markets. The company requested an exemption that would have allowed it to bypass a minimum offer price on subsidized energy resources that participate in the grid operator’s annual markets for reserve power. FERC agreed to a fix proposed by ISO New England that would allow Vineyard Wind to qualify for the exemption in the coming years.
The first utility-scale wind farm proposed for U.S. waters will face a crucial vote in Rhode Island as fishermen’s groups threaten to block the project. Today, the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) is expected to decide whether to certify the 84-turbine Vineyard Wind proposal as consistent with state policies that govern the shared use of the ocean.
Two weeks ago the Fishermen’s Advisory Board (FAB) received a financial compensation offer from Vineyard Wind for the disruption the 84-turbine facility would have on commercial fishing grounds. With money from Vineyard Wind, the FAB hired an economist to study the offer and an attorney to help with legal issues, and now both parties want more time to review and negotiate.
Cranston isn’t the only Rhode Island community concerned about the impacts of siting wind turbines close to neighborhoods. Some residents of Coventry have complained of shadow flicker and noise from the 10 414-foot-tall turbines in their rural village of Greene. They say the utility-scale facility isn’t consistent with the town’s comprehensive plan and has dramatically changed the village’s long-established characteristics.
Dellinger, a lobsterman, had said in December that “the industry doesn’t want a mitigation strategy.” “The whole process needs to slow down,” he said. “We’re in such a rush.” Among the points of contention is Vineyard Wind’s planned layout. Commercial fishermen want an east-west grid pattern but Vineyard Wind currently has a northeast-to-southwest grid plan.
Fishermen and council staff tried to convince Vineyard Wind to widen spacing between its turbines and change their configuration to align with industry-standard fishing lanes in the area, but the company argued that its tight schedule for construction prevented such changes. With the sides deadlocked, talk turned to mitigation.
Less than three weeks before Rhode Island coastal regulators are set to vote on a key approval for its $2-billion offshore wind farm, Vineyard Wind has yet to come forward with a compensation package for the state’s commercial fishermen who say that the layout of the company’s 84 turbines will block access to valuable Atlantic Ocean fishing grounds.