Library from Rhode Island
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.
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.
A 13-square-mile tract of ocean one to three miles off the south shore of Block Island is a prime candidate as a site for a 56-turbine wind farm, a state study concludes. Other candidates include ocean areas east and west of the Block Island ferry navigation channel not far from the mainland shore.
New England Energy Alliance Survey Finds Consumer Concern about Future Electricity Supplies, Desire to Choose Electricity Supplier and Support for Addressing Global Warming
NARRAGANSETT, R.I. - Gov. Don Carcieri's administration this week unveiled a report calling it feasible to build wind farms off the coast of Rhode Island as part of a plan to get 15 percent of the state's energy from wind in five years. Wind is plentiful in pockets along Narragansett Bay, and wind farms could supply much-needed energy to the Ocean State. But in a region where other wind projects have met with opposition, and in a state that prizes its shoreline, there's a lingering question over whether residents will support such a project. "Is aesthetics going to be a problem for people? That's the question. That's really the only question," said Andrew Dzykewicz, commissioner of the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources.
A study commissioned by Governor Carcieri identifies several areas off the coast of Rhode Island that are suitable for one or more wind farms that could generate enough electricity to supply 15 percent of the state's power demands. RIWINDS, as it's called, would be comparable in scope to the proposed Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, and could cost $900 million to $1.9 billion, depending on where the turbines would be located, how many were erected and several other variables.
Portsmouth residents now have an online resource to help them decide whether to support installing wind turbines on school property. The town Economic Development Committee's Sustainable Energy Subcommittee this week unveiled a Web site, www.portsmouthrienergy.com, aimed at informing residents about wind energy and on a proposal to build a turbine at the high school and/or middle school to save money on electricity costs. The site includes information on sustainable energy, funding sources and environmental impacts.
The newly appointed Wind Energy Study Committee held its first meeting at the Town Hall on April 3. The seven-member committee appointed officers and reviewed its charge from the Town Council, with direction from Town Clerk Arlene Petit.
Town councilors last week held an election and chose by paper ballot seven members for two year terms on the town's new wind energy committee. The seven were chosen from among 16 applicants and one nominated member. The council invited and urged applicants not named to the committee to attend and play active roles in the committee work. Selected for the committee were; William "Bucky" Brennan and Robert Bowen, who independently and simultaneously urged the council to pursue study of wind energy, and Clayton Carlisle, William W. Smith III, Don Wineberg, Abigail Anthony and Michael Larkin. Public Works Director Steven Goslee and Town Engineer Michael Gray will serve as ex-officio members.
TIVERTON - A meteorological tower designed to test the breezes has just been erected at Sandy Woods Farm adjacent to and south of the Bulgarmarsh recreation area. If the direction, speed and constancy of the winds are right, there could well be a wind generator at the location two years or so from now that would be capable of meeting most of the electrical energy needs of an artists' community now being proposed for the site. After a small number of trees had been cleared in a rocky pasture on the farm, and a concrete footing for the structure had been set in place, the 132-foot tall "met tower" was hoisted intact in just a few hours on Thursday morning last week. It is visible looking south from Bulgarmarsh Road on the hill and curve just west of the recreation area. The so-called tilt-up "met tower" system, consisting of interlocking galvanized steel tubes that slide together without bolts or clamps, was hoisted from the ground with a ginpole and winch. It is held in place by cable guy wires that run in four directions at several levels.
BARRINGTON — The explorers of wind power here gathered around six tables pushed together and focused on questions that might determine whether it’s worthwhile to power some Barrington buildings using a wind turbine or turbines. There are many questions to tackle, and the Wind Power Exploratory Committee agreed last night at its meeting at the public library to create four subcommittees made up of its members. A siting subcommittee will look at potential locations, among other things, and other subcommittees will focus on technology and engineering, cost, and the stakeholders in town. Subcommittees were slated to meet on different days over the next week and a half and report back when the full exploratory committee meets again in two weeks.
Portsmouth is one step closer to asking the General Assembly to approve putting a $3 million wind-turbine referendum on the local ballot - that is, if studies show the turbines would be worth the money. While the town has yet to decide if it wants wind turbines at local schools, Portsmouth’s Economic Development Committee sought support from local leaders for putting the special-election request to state lawmakers. They must approve enabling legislation for special elections, and such requests are due by February, the deadline to submit legislation for inclusion in this General Assembly session. Both the Portsmouth Town Council and the School Committee last week approved resolutions supporting a local vote on issuing bonds for the turbines. But a referendum won’t go to voters unless data shows the turbines would be economically viable.