Library from Rhode Island
Two top executives of Allco Renewable Energy Group Limited - Thomas Melone, president, and Gordon Alter, senior vice president - met with state energy coordinator Andrew Dzykewicz last week to try to answer concerns Dzykewicz raised when the company's plans to install 235 to 338 wind turbines became public two weeks ago. Both sides said the meeting was cordial, but they don't appear to agree on how Rhode Island should develop its potential coastal wind energy.
Allco Renewable Energy Group made official its plans to develop up to four offshore wind projects in Rhode Island at sites including two south of Little Compton. Although it filed preliminary applications with the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council on Nov. 21, the firm did not publicly announce its intentions until Monday, Nov. 26. ...Four of the permit applications submitted to the CRMC request permission to place meteorological masts in four of the offshore districts identified in the governor's wind siting study. The masts would analyze winds strengths for at least a year and a half before. The other four permit applications submitted relate to the actual building of wind projects in each of those areas.
In a release, Allco Renewable, a New York based renewable energy investment firm, said it submitted eight preliminary permit applications to the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) on September 21. The company proposed to install up to 338 wind turbines at the four sites - one south of Block Island, two south of Little Compton in Rhode Island Sound and one east of Fishers Island. ...If all goes well, Wavle said construction could start in the first quarter of 2009 with commercial operation a year later at a cost of $1 billion to $2 billion.
Word that a New York firm hopes to build 50 to as many as 84 wind turbines in waters a short distance south of Little Compton has prompted questions and concerns here. Allco Renewable Energy Group Ltd. filed preliminary papers with the state coastal Resources Management Council in late September in which it outlined a proposal to erect perhaps as many as 335 turbines at four Rhode Island coastal sites. Other sites include waters off Sachuest Point and Second Beach in Middletown (85 to 120 turbines in up to 9 square miles of water); just south of Block Island (50 to 84 turbines in up to 6.5 square miles of water); and 50 turbines off Westerly.
Governor Carcieri’s chief energy adviser, Andrew Dzykewicz, was dismissive of the New York company that is proposing to bring wind farms to Rhode Island’s coastal waters and said the state plans to continue with its own wind farm project so it can control the power output. ...“You don’t sandbag the top energy official and the governor of a state where you want to do business,” Dzykewicz said. But late yesterday, Allco managing director Jim Wavle returned a call The Journal placed to the company’s New York offices on Thursday. Wavle said the company’s proposal was serious and it plans to be in Rhode Island for the long haul.
Gov. Donald L. Carcieri's chief energy adviser this morning said a New York company's interest in building a large wind energy project off Rhode Island's coast is "extremely premature." At this time, the proposal is not seen as a viable option for alternative energy development in the state. ...The Allco Renewable Energy Group Ltd. - an investment bank that specializes in energy projects - has submitted a preliminary request to erect 235 to 338 wind turbines in state waters just off Block Island, Little Compton and Watch Hill, the Providence Journal reported this morning.
A New York investment company is proposing to erect between 235 and 338 large wind turbines to generate electricity in state waters just off Watch Hill, Block Island and Little Compton. The Allco Renewable Energy Group Limited says it may erect Danish turbines whose blades are 295 feet in diameter, mounted on towers that would rise 262 to 345 feet above the water. Allco’s proposes to start construction in the first quarter of 2009 and go into commercial service a year later.
The group of stakeholders evaluating sites for a state-sponsored offshore wind-energy project concluded its meetings yesterday without coming to a consensus on which of the 11 potential sites would be best suited for the development. ...But after four meetings, several group members said they still didn't have enough information to pick out just one site, while others said it would be unwise to throw out particular sites this early in the process.
Voters are being asked to approve $3 million up front to build the tower. Most of the money - $2.6 million - would be interest-free, coming from federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds. ...According to estimates prepared by the town's finance director, David P. Faucher, the turbine would initially cost 8 cents on the tax rate, but Faucher's analysis does not take into account income or savings resulting from the energy produced by the wind tower. The EDC's feasibility study calculated that a 1.5 megawatt turbine would more than pay for itself throughout a minimum 20-year life of the equipment.
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.
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.
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.