Library filed under Energy Policy from Rhode Island
In a victory for Deepwater Wind, the General Assembly passed legislation this week that provides the wind farm developer a guaranteed market for its electricity. And as a bonus for Deepwater, the Legislature approved the bills with veto-proof margins. ...The legislation passed by the House on Tuesday and Senate on Wednesday forces National Grid, the state's largest electric distributor, to purchase electricity from renewable energy projects.
As Rhode Island moves to expand its renewable energy market, lobbyists at the Statehouse are finding the debate provides a different form of green power: cash. At least $400,000 has been spent so far this year by corporations with a stake as lawmakers hash out agreements worth big money to power developers, energy suppliers and labor unions hurting for jobs.
National Grid has appealed to the R.I. Supreme Court a ruling by the R.I. Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ordering Grid to sign long-term contracts for the purchase of renewable energy. The utility argues that current law does not allow it to do what the commission wants. In its ruling on March 16, the PUC unanimously rejected National Grid's electricity supply plans for 2010, writing that "contrary to the plain language" of the commission's rulings on the subject, "the plan did not contain any long-term contracts for renewable energy resources."
Gov. Donald Carcieri seems determined to jump-start offshore wind power development. Not waiting for state experts and scientists to complete the process of picking the best ocean sites for turbines, he has had his Energy Office contract for the construction of a small number of wind turbines off Block Island. The main customers, it seems, will be island residents, who certainly appreciate the governor's interest in serving our needs. But still, it's fair to wonder if this contract is real business or just cheerleading?
The state of Rhode Island signed a joint development agreement with Deepwater Wind Thursday that could lead to the placement of four to eight wind turbines three miles off the southeastern coast of Block Island as early as 2010. The legally binding agreement envisions the wind farm providing 20 megawatts of power with a tie-in to the island.
As the state moves forward with the creation of zoning regulations for Rhode Island's coastal waters, commercial fishermen are worried their interests will not be adequately represented when key decisions are made about where they can fish. ...The fishermen, for their part, say they are supportive of efforts to develop renewable energy and are not looking to derail the SAMP project. "We can absolutely live together," said Wallis. "We just want to have a good say in that."
After 10 months of work, the Committee for Renewable Energy for Barrington (CREB) has recommended the town accept a bid to install a 600 kilowatt wind turbine generator at the Legion Way site. The town council is saddled with the final decision - whether to follow the CREB recommendation and award the bid for the work to Lumus Construction Inc. ...The recommendation report goes into detail, explaining specifics about the proposed project. The council was scheduled to hear from CREB members at Monday night's meeting and were expecting some other vocal residents to attend also.
State Senator Josh Miller is rasing concerns about the wind farm project announced by Governor Carcieri last week. "While the General Assembly has fully supported developing renewable energy projects in Rhode Island, I am concerned that Governor Carcieri has unilaterally moved Deepwater Wind to the front of the line when major questions remain about their experience and background. I am troubled by the lack of disclosure from Deepwater Wind's CEO about his financial relationship with First Wind," stated Senator Miller.
Gov. Donald Carcieri chose Deepwater Wind -- formerly Winergy -- on Thursday to develop a privately financed project that would provide 1.3 million megawatt hours of offshore wind power per year. ...The decision brings to three active plans to build wind farms off the U.S. coast. Besides Bluewater, there's Cape Wind, a private wind farm proposal on Nantucket Sound. New Jersey is nearing the selection of a developer for its own offshore farm. All projects will have to seek federal permits, the rules of which have not been finalized.
The company selected to build a $1.5-billion wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island has never constructed an offshore project. But yesterday, Governor Carcieri said he was confident that Deepwater Wind, the three-year-old New Jersey firm chosen to build the privately financed project, had the experience and the financial backing to get the job done. "They've done projects, not offshore, but they've done projects in Hawaii, Maine and New York so they know how to do wind, they know what's involved," Carcieri said yesterday.
Gov. Donald L. Carcieri today called on the R.I. Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to force National Grid, the state's major power company, to sign long-term contracts to buy electricity from renewable energy generators. One of the PUC's mandates is to keep ratepayers' costs as low as possible. In a letter sent to the three commissioners today, the governor argued that requiring the dominant utility to buy renewable energy will provide market incentives for new power sources that will reduce electricity costs in the long run.
In his veto message this morning, Carcieri wrote: "It is with much regret that I find it necessary to veto this legislation. "Renewable energy has great potential for powering our homes and businesses as well as our economy. Rhode Island is poised to be a pioneer in emerging technologies of wind and wave energy, and I'm confident that in due time, we will fulfill my goal of securing at least 20 percent of our energy from renewable resources." But, he added, "unfortunately, I believe the legislation before me today fails to balance our desire to invest in renewable energy with the realities that rate-payers currently endure." ...The environmental community also reacted with disappointment to the veto.
Governor Carcieri has vetoed a key renewable energy bill passed by the General Assembly that was designed to foster private investment in major renewable energy projects and shift the state away from its reliance on traditional fossil fuels. ...The governor gave three reasons for his veto. He said he took issue with a provision in the bill that would give National Grid a bonus payment of 3 percent of the renewable energy contracts it entered into, once the project began operations. Electricity customers would have paid for the bonus. ...the governor said another flaw in the bill was that it did not require National Grid to enter into renewable energy contracts from developers who are building a project within Rhode Island.
The governor's office said the state would "use its best efforts" to expedite the permitting process and assure a long-term contract for energy produced by the facility. The companies that submitted bids were: Allco Renewable Energy Group Limited LLC, New York, N.Y.; Bluewater Wind LLC, Providence; Deep Water Wind Rhode Island LLC, Hoboken, N.J.; DKRW Wind LLC, Houston; Fishermen's Energy of Rhode Island, Bristol; Great Eastern Wind LLC, Providence; and WindPowerpro.us, Woodbridge, N.J. Four of the five members of the wind farm selection team -- Dzykewicz, Ahern, Kaplan and Long -- were either appointed to their state positions by the governor, or they work for someone who was appointed by him. None of the five appears to have specific expertise in wind energy.
Memo from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities Chairman, Paul Hibbard, to the ISO New England. Chairman Hibbard expresses his concerns over the push to regionalize costs for building expensive transmission lines to service renewable projects (wind) built far from load centers. Current FERC rules are unclear on how to justify distribution of the costs across all ratepayers within the region unless it can be shown such transmission is needed to ensure the reliability and integrity of the grid.
Rhode Island's major power company would be required to buy renewable energy for at least 10 years at a time under a proposal adopted unanimously Tuesday by Senate lawmakers. ...Bill supporters say the proposal is designed to fix a problem holding back green energy projects: a lack of large customers willing to buy the power. The bill will affect National Grid, the state's largest electricity distributor, which supports the proposal. Without a big customer willing to pay for wind or solar energy over the long run, banks and investors will not fund renewable energy projects, said Matt Auten, an advocate for the nonprofit group Environment Rhode Island, which supports the bill.
File this one under if you can't beat ‘em, join ‘em. A group of commercial fishermen wants to get in on the rush to build offshore wind farms to generate electricity. It's an interesting about face for the fishing industry, which has traditionally fought offshore industrialization - other than their own floating seafood factories, that is. ...The effort is attracting attention in New Jersey, where the state is looking to provide grants for a pilot offshore wind farm. ... Meanwhile, if Trenton doesn't take the bait, perhaps Providence will. Last Friday, Fishermen's Energy filed one of seven proposals to build a windfarm off the coast of Rhode Island.
Seven developers, one as far away as Houston, have submitted proposals to build an offshore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island. Yesterday was the deadline for private developers to respond to the state's "request for proposals" that sought bids to finance, construct and operate a wind farm big enough to supply 15 percent of the state's electricity usage. ...It was unclear up until yesterday's deadline how many companies would make proposals, he said. There were 64 firms that registered their names with the state in order to download information about submitting a proposal, according to a list provided by Moynihan. The seven bids were not received until Thursday and yesterday.
The [New England] region's power system has had a long history of dependability, but electricity costs have been an issue for businesses and residents for decades. As the region plans ahead, New England's policymakers face a series of decisions that will have an abiding impact on our energy future. ...Economic, reliability and environmental goals are not always perfectly aligned when it comes to electricity generation and transmission. Whatever path policymakers choose to take will require trade-offs. How New England officials balance these sometimes conflicting goals will demonstrate our priorities, impact the regional economy and determine which objectives we can realistically achieve.
Wind farm developers, show us your plans. That's the message Governor Carcieri sent yesterday to private developers who may be interested in building a massive offshore wind farm that would generate at least 15 percent of the electricity consumed throughout Rhode Island -- about 1.3 million megawatts of power a year. At a State House news conference yesterday afternoon, Carcieri announced that the state has begun a formal request for proposals process, in which it seeks a partner in the private sector who would construct, finance and operate the wind farm.