Articles from Rhode Island
They knew that power from the Block Island Wind Farm would be expensive but were willing to pay the price in the hopes that the project would spur creation of a new clean-energy industry in the state. What they didn’t bargain for was that the wind farm would become a gold mine for an energy company that already had a dominant presence in Rhode Island: National Grid.
The town signed a public-private agreement with Ipswich Wind Independence LLC in 2011 to build Wind II (Wind I is town-owned). The town’s electric light department (ELD) agreed to buy power from the company, and the town also collected around $1.3 million in property tax. However, a fire in October 2018 knocked Wind II out of action. To complicate matters, there were rumors that Ipswich Wind Independence was in financial difficulties — and the town discovered no bond had been paid to ensure safe removal of the structure. The turbine was not repairable, as the manufacturer, Hyundai, had withdrawn from the turbine business.
PROVIDENCE — When representatives of Rhode Island’s fishing industry started negotiating with Ørsted and Eversource over compensation for impacts from the proposed South Fork Wind Farm, they had just come off a bruising battle with another offshore wind developer and were hoping for something better.
Green Development, LLC, one of Rhode Island’s largest renewable energy developers, announced Tuesday that it’s received approval to construct three 1.5-megawatt wind turbines in Providence.
Ørsted A/S — the Danish power company that acquired Block Island when it bought Deepwater Wind in 2018 — is bearing the cost of reburying the Block Island cable connecting its turbines to the island grid. Spokesperson Lauren Burm declined to disclose the cost of the full project. "The original cable was installed by a previous owner."
Gov. Gina Raimondo is looking to procure as much as 600 more megawatts of power generated by towering wind turbines that would rise up out of the ocean waters off southern New England. Her administration announced on Tuesday that National Grid, the state’s main energy utility, is working on a request for proposals from offshore wind developers that is on track to be released early next year.
Corey Lang, associate professor of natural resource economics, and doctoral student Vasundhara Gaur found that prices of homes within a mile of a solar installation declined by 1.7%. Homes within a tenth of a mile went down by 7%. ...“In those non-rural areas there aren’t many large blocks of farmland or forestland,” Lang said. “It’s a scarce resource. When that’s developed into solar, it’s felt by the community. You’re losing green space and also adding an industrial viewscape.”
“Because, after all this surveying work the companies did, they determined like we asked them several years ago that the best way to bury these cables was by horizontal directional drilling and that is what they are going to do,” CRMC’s interim executive director Jeffrey Willis said when the plan was finalized by the CRMC board at its Sept. 8 meeting. The drilling is expected to begin in October and finish over the winter.
National Grid, which owns the high-voltage power line from Block Island to Narragansett, expects to pay $30 million for its share of the reconstruction, which will require horizontal directional drilling. The state’s primary electric utility will recover the expense through an undetermined surcharge on ratepayers’ bills. ...The power line from the five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm reaches shore at Fred Benson Town Beach and leaves New Shoreham for Narragansett at Crescent Beach to the north. But keeping portions of the cable buried at Crescent Beach has been a struggle.
The business groups argue that halting the surcharges would provide some rate relief to both commercial and residential customers at a time when many are having financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown. “We’re not looking to decimate these programs, but we are saying, ‘We’ve got to take a breather,’” said Doug Gablinske, executive director of the Energy Council of Rhode Island, which represents large energy users.
The rural opposition has been so strong that earlier this year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo added a provision, known as Article 23, to the state budget that effectively strips local communities of their ability to stop big renewable-energy projects from being built in their jurisdictions. ...New Englanders like the idea of wind energy they just don’t want any wind turbines in New England. So they are putting them in New York.
A doozy of a fight played out at a Rhode Island State House hearing just before the pandemic shut down this year’s legislative session. It involved: Arsenic-laced “tunnel muck.”
Those types of disputes are “what we’re trying to avoid happening now,” said Annie Hawkins, executive director of the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, or RODA. The coalition of fishing stakeholders aims to get the industry on the same page as researchers and wind developers across the region. “We’re trying to make sure fishermen are much more involved in the process from day one,” Hawkins said. She’d like to see more work across state lines to coordinate policy and research.
The electric cables for the Block Island Wind Farm were supposed to be buried in trenches at least four feet below the seabed, but workers couldn’t get down as far as they wanted, and over the last four years waves have exposed portions of the transmission lines that run to and from a beach on the island. Now, Orsted, plans to rebury one of the two cables starting in the fall. ...But for an indeterminate amount of time during construction, the 30-megawatt wind farm, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build, will have to go offline.
Fugate said that if the PUC votes to have the companies pay for the project out of pocket, the decision would be litigated. In July 2019, however, Ørsted told The Block Island Times that it would pay for the re-installation and not pass the cost of the project off to the public. National Grid has stated to the paper in the past that the cost of reinstalling a section of its sea2shore cable might be shared by mainland and island ratepayers.
Mark DePasquale, founder of Green Development LLC, often turns to legal action when things don’t fall his way.
A Rhode Island renewable energy developer says it plans to sue the towns of Coventry and Exeter for a total of about $285 million, saying the corporation has been illegally deprived of its rights to develop solar projects in those towns.
Seven U.S. senators from New England on Monday urged ISO-NE to “return to the table with stakeholders” and more closely align its fuel security initiative with state policies seeking to speed the transition to renewable energy resources.
Mark DePasquale, founder of Green Development LLC, embodies the tension surrounding renewable-energy development in Rhode Island. He’s both lauded and vilified. One of his projects, in the woods of Coventry, exemplifies the controversy that follows the state’s most prominent developer of wind and solar energy.
Doug Christel, a fishing policy analyst at NOAA, responded a week later. The federal agency had not been closely tracking the state process but had discussed Lapp's concerns, he said. "Similar to some of your comments, we feel the DEIS [draft environmental impact statement] underestimates landings from within the WDA," he wrote, referring to the wind development area leased by Vineyard Wind from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.