Articles from Rhode Island
The move comes as Deepwater steps up efforts to build an eight-turbine wind farm in state waters off Block Island that would serve as a test project before the company’s 100-turbine proposal in federal waters farther off the Rhode Island coast.
The Island Energy Plan Committee was unable to produce a quorum at its Wednesday meeting. Nevertheless, members present informally discussed the development of the plan's first draft, which they hope to have completed by November.
The state Public Utilities Commission, which approved a controversial power-purchase agreement between Deepwater Wind and National Grid last month, has until Sept. 23 to submit the full written record of the proceedings to the court. Thomas Kogut, spokesman for the state Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, said the records are being compiled.
"There would be few if any places in Middletown that would not be seen as scenic, historic or natural from a viewpoint," said Tarpgaard. "These broad terms could apply anywhere in Middletown and effectually it could become law that no wind turbines can be erected in Middletown."
"But I am confident that our court will not be intimidated by the defective provision of a defective law, and will allow the appeals process to follow its normal, deliberative course. Rhode Island ratepayers and businesses, who stand to pay for this arrogance in the form of overpriced electricity for the next 20 years, deserve nothing less."
The three-member PUC issued its written order August 16. Appeals had to be filed within seven days. All three appellants argue that the contract does not fulfill four basic requirements called for in legislation while the attorney general and CLF also point to underlying legal difficulties, such as res judicata i.e. that an issue not be decided twice, and separation of powers issues regarding the law itself.
"We know the area [the location most viable for wind turbines in the nearby federal waters], but any reference to federal statutes and waters is forbidden," Fugate said. ...Said Tikoian, "Then why did we spend so much money to study federal waters and not include them? We want to ensure accountability and that we paid $8 million on what we said we were going to do."
Planning Board members who toured the property Friday also answered some residents' and neighbors' questions about the 294-foot wind turbine proposal's approval process and timeline, but amongst themselves declined to deliberate or discuss the issue again until the board's next meeting in September.
The two Republicans running to take the place of their term-limited, fellow GOP member are opposed to the recent agreement between National Grid and Deepwater, while the Democratic and the independent candidates are in favor - though the latter with reservations.
All three appeals request the court to overturn the state Public Utilities Commission's 2-to-1 vote approving a long-term contract between developer Deepwater Wind and utility National Grid. The deadline for challenging the decision was Monday, seven days after the PUC issued written approval of the controversial agreement.
The Conservation Law Foundation was among a host of groups that opposed the legislation, saying it was designed to only benefit a single private entity. The group argues that the law violates the separation-of-powers doctrine in the Rhode Island Constitution.
The Planning Board Tuesday night supported amendments to zoning laws to match the town's Comprehensive Plan that restricts wind turbine impacts to vistas, but the current proposal for a 294-foot structure off Paradise Road will be unaffected.
In the months leading up to this week's PUC decision, Block Island residents have debated the merits of the proposed wind farm, focusing both on finances and aesthetics. Residents have weighed the pros and cons of eight wind turbines within three miles of Block Island.
Opposition rose at the end of the legislative session when Carcieri and legislative leaders drafted the bill that sent a new power-purchase agreement back to the PUC with so many restrictions, some said the commissioners would have no choice but to approve it.
Well before Jamestown residents vote on a referendum to fund a Taylor Point wind turbine, the town plans to present them with an updated picture of the potential impacts on the town and its balance sheet.
A proposed offshore wind farm took a major step forward Wednesday with the approval of a key contract between National Grid and developer Deepwater Wind. But R.I. Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch vowed to appeal the decision, calling it a "sweetheart deal."
A new wind farm off Block Island could jump-start Rhode Island's economy and make it a national leader for using renewable energy. Or it could be a risky venture that actually thwarts economic development by unnecessarily hiking local electric rates.
"The project will result in higher costs of electricity to commercial and industrial businesses and will serve as a negative factor in retaining and attracting businesses," Mazze said in his prepared testimony. "To businesses, there are no economic benefits to this project. Rhode Island could realize greater economic benefit by investing in energy efficiency which could support lower-cost renewable energy at a reasonable price."
McCullough said he found the prices in the contract are significantly higher than prices for similar projects either under way or recently completed in Europe. "The cost figures give the appearance of being reverse-engineered from a required rate of return rather than derived from basic engineering estimates. The rate of return seems high with any reasonable level of leverage, and due diligence by the purchaser was lacking.
Tuesday was the fourth day of hearings on Deepwater Wind's proposal to build six to eight wind turbines three miles off of Block Island. At the hearing, Germani and PUC member Paul Roberti questioned why National Grid had abandoned its role as advocate for lower utility prices. National Grid lawyer Ronald Gerwatowski answered that at no point in lengthy legal proceedings had the utility stated a position on the wind project's wider economic impact.