Library filed under Offshore Wind from Rhode Island
Opponents to the offshore wind farm under construction near Block Island have filed a case in federal court seeking to overturn a critical agreement under which developer Deepwater Wind will sell power to utility National Grid.
Benjamin Riggs, the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association and others filed this complaint in Federal Court pertaining to the approval of an above-market power contract between Deepwater Wind and National grid. The plaintiffs initially pursued this matter before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”). However FERC chose not to act on it itself but rather to refer the matter to the courts. Consequently they ruled that “Our decision not to initiate an enforcement action means that Mr. Riggs may himself bring an enforcement action against the Rhode Island Commission in the appropriate court”. By law, that is federal court. The current action is limited to asking the federal government to assert its clear authority over the pricing mechanism for the Deepwater project. The complaint, a portion of which appears below, speaks for itself. The full complaint can be accessed by clicking the links on this page. In addition, the plaintiffs filed the attached Memorandum that explains the Motion for Summary Judgment.
The following interview was conducted, written and edited by Lars Trodson on Tuesday, Aug. 11. It was learned later that day that the one steel jacket foundation placed in the water so far, which was subsequently damaged when it was hit by a barge, was taken out of the water. The Block Island Times sent in a series of six questions to Deepwater Wind regarding the condition, repair and current location of the foundation, and received the following response:
First, it was the weather. Rough seas forced the Providence company to push back until last Sunday the installation of the first steel foundation for the five-turbine wind farm off Block Island. Now, Deepwater is dealing with a construction mishap. Earlier this week, one of the barges being used in the project hit the latticework “jacket” foundation that had been placed in the water and dented one of its four hollow, tubular legs.
The most obvious sign that Deepwater Wind is about to start installing the nation’s first offshore wind farm appeared in the Atlantic Ocean waters near Block Island on Saturday. It's hard to miss, coming in the form of the 300-foot-long Weeks 533, the largest water-borne revolving crane on the East Coast.
Shields filed a complaint in Superior Court last July that alleged that a subcommittee of the state Coastal Resources Management Council showed bias toward Deepwater during hearings on the Providence-based company’s proposal last February.
Deepwater Wind now expects its five-turbine offshore wind farm planned near Block Island to produce more power than originally projected, resulting in potentially lower prices for consumers, company CEO Jeffrey Grybowski told the state Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday.
An outpouring of support from lawmakers and environmentalists for an offshore wind farm 30 miles from Montauk appears to have been decisive in helping push the politically connected developer's project to LIPA's list of finalists.
The circular logic of REC market fundamentals would have low REC pricing jeopardizing future development. As renewable energy project profit margins get squeezed, fewer projects will be built and forward REC prices would rebound as forward supply tightens.The worry is that offshore wind projects could break this self-correcting market logic in the New England Power Pool (NEPOOL).
Four agencies — two state and two federal — will have the final say on whether the Deepwater Wind project moves into the construction phase.
Deepwater is responding to a 2013 request for proposal by LIPA for 280 megawatts of renewable energy. The state-controlled entity is seeking options after applying for a federal lease for its own wind project proposal with Consolidated Edison Inc. and the New York Power Authority off the coast of Long Island.
National Grid has submitted a proposal to the R.I. Division of Public Utilities and Carriers to construct the transmission system for the Deepwater Wind Block Island Wind Farm, instead of purchasing the completed system from Deepwater Wind as in previous plans. National Grid has also proposed paying Deepwater Wind $9.5 million for assets already invested in developing the transmission system.
In 2009, The Providence Journal wrote about the race to build the first offshore wind farm in the United States, with projects off Block Island and Cape Cod at the front of the pack. Five years later, the race continues.
The opposition is prepared to assert that wind farms are visual blights and environmental disturbances. But Deepwater’s adversaries believe that the high cost of this particular type of green energy is their strongest argument. A stack of handouts by the door to the Narragansett Town Council chambers raised the alarm. They proclaimed: “Wind Power Invasion Coming Soon,” and warned of a “predatory development,” and “a risky venture,” doomed to fail, while guaranteeing “huge profits” to Deepwater Wind.
"Seascapes are an integral part of our national, state and local cultural and natural resource heritage. They should be recognized as such and not be in play for developmental risk," said David Lewis of Block Island.
The report signed by CRMC executive director Grover J. Fugate and other staff members at the agency recommends the adoption of 17 stipulations that include reducing any impacts on North Atlantic right whales during construction, conducting regular reports on bird impact after the wind turbines are installed, and carrying out a study on the effects of the wind farm on recreational boating.
With the focus on project completion, Grybowski says the company's top priority is ensuring that Deepwater is able to satisfy the 5% safe-harbor provision to qualify for the investment tax credit. Among other requirements, developers must incur 5% of the project's cost by Dec. 31 to be eligible for the tax incentive. To satisfy the U.S. Treasury's 5% spend threshold, Deepwater plans to use a combination of "historical expenditures" and contracts signed with vendors until the end of the year.
The agreed-upon price was the one needed to support Deepwater Wind’s return on investment and to attract investors. No consideration was given to a price that would benefit both Deepwater and the consumer. In fact, in none of my research on the government’s position did I see the needs of the consumer addressed. In short, a biased, thoughtless process of negotiating the Deepwater Wind contract left the consumer holding the bag with much of the company’s development costs and profit.
The Providence company emerged from the nation's first competitive sale of offshore renewable energy leases on Wednesday as the provisional winner, with bids of $3.7 million for the north section of the area, which is believed to be more suitable for development, and $94,000 for the south section.
I do not think that the Narragansett Town Council will permit Deepwater Wind to funnel electricity from its Block Island wind farm through Narragansett. ...With a new town council in place, President James Callaghan stated publicly: "When you think about it, this is not the best for the town when it goes through our most precious resource."