Library from Rhode Island
While paper mills close and Cabletron spins off its remnants out of state, power plants from the Seacoast to Whitefield enjoy the perks of a poorly understood, $100-million subsidy program just for energy producers. It has a bureaucratic name: the forward capacity market. ...An unidentified 600-megawatt, gas-fired power plant project somewhere in Rockingham County is blocked behind half a dozen North Country renewable energy projects in the ISO-New England regulatory queue. The waiting list policy is first-come, first-served. A plant like that would typically pay its host community $4 million or more in property taxes, with few smokestack emissions. But those wind- and wood-fired projects at the front of the line are all in limbo. The Public Service power lines in the region are too small. Most of the players can't even bid into the upcoming ISO auction, because yet-to-be-built plants have to ante millions of dollars as a sort of performance bond. And the ISO doesn't make forward capacity payments for transmission line upgrades.
The group of stakeholders who are evaluating potential sites for a state-built wind farm had more questions about the project's impact yesterday, including how it will look from land and how it will affect recreational and commercial fishing. ...Lanny Dellinger, president of the Rhode Island Lobsterman Association, said that two areas being considered, off the South County shore, are prime areas for several kinds of fishing, including for squid. ...Curt Spalding, executive director of Save the Bay, said the group needed to see how the project would look from land at each proposed site before the stakeholders can make an informed recommendation. "This is the most important thing - how it looks," Spalding said. "We can talk all day about everything else but this is it. We all know the Cape Wind issue."
The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources recently gave thumbs up to the island's pursuit of a wind energy generation program. The unofficial nod followed town council approval for $15,000 to be spent on a wind turbine feasibility study. ...Pichs also noted that turbine manufacturers had backorders which took anywhere from 16 months to three years to deliver. "They are catering to the larger projects now. Money that was available for Portsmouth is no longer available," he warned. Pichs said that a company like General Electric might be interested, "but they have so much demand from wind farms that they're not interested in small projects."
New England ISO (NE ISO) control area includes the six states of New England (CT, RI, MA, ME, NH, VT).
Councilor Peter Baute passed out copies of a map showing possible sites for offshore wind farms under the governor's ambitious plan, two of which lie off Block Island. The two near the island have the highest wind velocities, he said, but there are two other sites near Newport and Little Compton that have winds almost as strong. Baute and a visitor from Roger Williams College toured the areas of the island that face the sites and took pictures, he said. Facsimiles of the turbines will be superimposed onto the pictures to approximate how they will look from the island.
Will military-submarine traffic get in the way of the wind-turbine towers? Will lights on the turbines blind ship captains? Will wind turbines suck away the energy from the wind, leaving sailboats stranded? These are some of the questions and concerns that arose yesterday at a meeting of Governor Carcieri's offshore wind-power stakeholders' group.
Wind energy on Jamestown could take several forms, according to Jamestown's Wind Energy Committee. However, in order to determine the best option, the town is being asked to allocate upwards of $50,000 in funding for a wind energy feasibility study.
The town may ask Block Island residents to fund a paid energy advisor who could help organize an effort to bring the island's energy future under its own control, including, as a first step, polling community sentiment about erecting huge wind turbines.
The Portsmouth Economic Development Committee sent out about 1,000 surveys last weekend seeking public input on plans for the local construction of wind turbines. About half the surveys were sent by random selection and the rest were sent to residents with property adjacent to Portsmouth Middle School or Portsmouth High School.
New England's electricity rates, among the highest in the nation, will continue to depend almost entirely on the price of natural gas over the next two decades -- no matter what policies state leaders adopt for conserving energy and approving new kinds of power plants, according to a study being released today. The report, by Independent System Operator New England, which runs the six-state power grid and the region's $10 billion wholesale power market, offers no hope rates will drop significantly unless the price of natural gas plummets. That's an outcome few energy investors are banking on. Since 2000, as New England has grown more dependent on cleaner-burning natural-gas power plants, average homeowners' electric bills in Massachusetts have roughly doubled, along with an equivalent jump in the prices for wholesale natural gas. The ISO's "scenario analysis" examines 52 approaches to meeting demand for electricity through 2025, but takes no position on which are best. They include launching massive conservation efforts, building nuclear generators at existing nuclear plants, and making a huge regional push into cleaner-burning coal plants. Regardless of which scenario is pursued, 90 percent of the time in 2020-2025 the price of gas would determine the price of electricity, the report says.
Central Maine Power and Maine Public Service have asked the ISO New England to review the feasibility of a transmission line that would link northern Maine with the regional grid and create a path for wind power to flow to load centers in southern New England. Tim Brown, MPS director of corporate planning and regulatory affairs, said Thursday that the line, expected to be in excess of 100 miles, would allow transmission of more than 500 MW of wind power, most of it still in planning. While the idea of connecting northern Maine to the regional grid has been discussed for years, it has taken on a new significance given the difficulty utilities and merchant generators have encountered when they've attempted to build plants in the high-demand southern New England states. In addition to growing demand, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have renewable portfolio standards, which create pressure for more large scale wind. But no major projects have been built in southern New England. In northern Maine, about 42 MW of wind is operating and an additional 500 MW has been proposed. If the line is not built, Brown said wind electricity in northern Maine could be routed into Canada then into southern New England. That, however, would require major upgrades to grid interface between MPS and New Brunswick Power. Brown said the utilities expect the ISO impact study to be completed by the end of 2007.
The Wind Energy Committee voted last week to ask the Town Council for $50,000 for a wind energy feasibility study. The committee also voted to recommend that the town begin the process with an invitation for suppliers to submit proposals for the study.
Legislators in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic passed a number of bills applying to the electric power industry, with several states committing to emissions reductions through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and other states making broad organizational changes to their regulatory processes.
Governor Carcieri's wind-power initiative suffered a significant setback Friday when the General Assembly failed to pass a bill that the governor said was needed to support the project. The legislation would have created the Rhode Island Power Authority, a quasi-public agency that would have had the authority to issue bonds to finance renewable energy projects, such as the proposal by the governor to establish one or more wind farms capable of generating 15 percent of Rhode Island's electricity usage. The project, comparable in scope to the proposed Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, could cost $900 million to $1.9 billion to build, depending on where the turbines would be located, how many were erected and several other variables. Without the power authority legislation, the wind-energy project is essentially on hold, said Andrew Dzykewicz, the commissioner of the state Office of Energy Resources.
PORTSMOUTH - Preliminary analyses by the town's Sustainable Energy Subcommittee report that Portsmouth would not only save money in utility costs by installing a wind turbine at the middle or high school but wind energy would also generate revenue through the sale of excess power back to the utility company. In public workshops last week, the committee estimated that one 600kW turbine would produce $30,000 per year in revenue after generating a school's electricity and minus the cost of purchasing, installing and maintaining the turbine. Once the bond is paid off, the revenue a single turbine could generate, at 2007 energy prices, would rise to $150,000 per year or about $1.6 million over 20 years. The committee is studying whether wind energy would be cost-effective for the town. Its focus is to determine whether to purchase two 600kW turbines, one each at the middle and high schools, or one 1.5MW turbine. The committee chose to study if wind energy could reduce the schools' electric costs since, collectively, they consume 62 percent of municipal energy use.
Technical, environmental and financial considerations were focuses of presentations by consultants at the June 12 meeting of the Wind Energy Committee. The committee listened to expert advice on proceeding with a feasibility study to bring the renewable energy source to Jamestown.
Can Barrington handle a wind turbine? According to Richard Asinof, chairman of the Barrington Wind Power Exploratory Committee, the answer is a confident yes - "the committee reached a clear consensus," he said. The committee members proceeded to prove their point through an hour-long presentation to the Barrington Town Council on Monday night that culminated several months of research. Their findings were that Barrington could sustain a turbine at five locations in town - Barrington High School, Barrington Middle School, the Legion Way pump station, the DPW building and town hall - at a start-up cost ranging from $1.2 million to $1.4 million. Depending on the site, a turbine could produce a simple payback of those costs in 11 to 13 years, according to the committee's data. The more important question, however, is if the town council wants one.
A New Hampshire company wants to introduce a new era of wind technology to the United States and it wants to showcase that technology here in West Warwick. Representatives from Portsmouth Power Corporation made a presentation to the town council and town residents last night to introduce the principles of the project. The company would like to build three module power towers on Arctic Hill. The company is proposing putting one tower near the tennis courts and two towers at the rear of the baseball field behind the high school. The company would donate the tower closest to the school to the town and would own the other two.
A portion of the wind energy generated from newly installed wind turbines located in PEI was wheeled through PEI and New Brunswick and sold to the New England Power Pool (NEPOOL) via the international interconnection node in Keswick, N.B. The renewable energy certificates (RECs) that were generated from this transmission were sold separately to independent buyers located in the NEPOOL.
Legislation submitted to the R.I. General Assembly by Gov. Donald L. Carcieri would create a R.I. Power Authority to spearhead the development of renewable energy sources and ensure that Rhode Islanders are the primary beneficiaries of whatever electricity is produced. The bill, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere, R-Westerly, and co-sponsored by Senate President Joseph A. Montalbano, D-North Providence, is to be heard tomorrow (Thursday, May 3) by the Senate Corporations Committee.