Library from Rhode Island
National Grid has submitted a proposal to the R.I. Division of Public Utilities and Carriers to construct the transmission system for the Deepwater Wind Block Island Wind Farm, instead of purchasing the completed system from Deepwater Wind as in previous plans. National Grid has also proposed paying Deepwater Wind $9.5 million for assets already invested in developing the transmission system.
In 2009, The Providence Journal wrote about the race to build the first offshore wind farm in the United States, with projects off Block Island and Cape Cod at the front of the pack. Five years later, the race continues.
The opposition is prepared to assert that wind farms are visual blights and environmental disturbances. But Deepwater’s adversaries believe that the high cost of this particular type of green energy is their strongest argument. A stack of handouts by the door to the Narragansett Town Council chambers raised the alarm. They proclaimed: “Wind Power Invasion Coming Soon,” and warned of a “predatory development,” and “a risky venture,” doomed to fail, while guaranteeing “huge profits” to Deepwater Wind.
"Seascapes are an integral part of our national, state and local cultural and natural resource heritage. They should be recognized as such and not be in play for developmental risk," said David Lewis of Block Island.
Allowing things to be broken with the expectation of someday fixing them is horrible policy. Things that are as complicated as the Atlantic Ocean do not fix easily. Let us decide on an ocean policy concerning the expanded utility of our oceans that states clearly, “Above all else, do no harm.”
The report signed by CRMC executive director Grover J. Fugate and other staff members at the agency recommends the adoption of 17 stipulations that include reducing any impacts on North Atlantic right whales during construction, conducting regular reports on bird impact after the wind turbines are installed, and carrying out a study on the effects of the wind farm on recreational boating.
Federal regulators are being asked to resolve a regional rift over who should pay for new power lines needed to carry renewable electricity to southern New England. Vermont has joined New Hampshire and Rhode Island to oppose the cost-sharing formula being promoted by Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine. ...the more populated states are trying to offload much of the cost of the new power projects on other states in New England.
Clean energy is facing some serious headwinds in town. Tiverton’s only wind turbine is face-down in a hay field, and a proposal to set up a wind farm has stalled. “Not a thing is happening right now,” said Garry Plunkett, the town’s expert on wind power. “It is pretty dead.”
Under Deepwater's plan, which still requires permits from the state Coastal Resources Management Council and other agencies, the cable would run under Scarborough beach to a parking lot and then under state roads to a switchyard that would be built next to Route 1. The entire route of the transmission line would be on land owned by either the DOT or the DEM.
A couple who previously lived next to the 413-foot wind turbine in a subdivision off Ten Rod Road – and staunchly opposed its construction – were paid $15,000 by the turbine’s owner in 2011 and agreed not to publicly or privately disparage the project.
"We think that it is likely there will be significant additional transmission investment needed to maintain reliability and improve access to these clean, intermittent power sources," Lee Olivier, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said in an earnings call Friday. "But it is too early to estimate how much that additional investment will be and exactly when it will occur."
With the focus on project completion, Grybowski says the company's top priority is ensuring that Deepwater is able to satisfy the 5% safe-harbor provision to qualify for the investment tax credit. Among other requirements, developers must incur 5% of the project's cost by Dec. 31 to be eligible for the tax incentive. To satisfy the U.S. Treasury's 5% spend threshold, Deepwater plans to use a combination of "historical expenditures" and contracts signed with vendors until the end of the year.
The agreed-upon price was the one needed to support Deepwater Wind’s return on investment and to attract investors. No consideration was given to a price that would benefit both Deepwater and the consumer. In fact, in none of my research on the government’s position did I see the needs of the consumer addressed. In short, a biased, thoughtless process of negotiating the Deepwater Wind contract left the consumer holding the bag with much of the company’s development costs and profit.
“If you get it wrong, bad things happen,” Nicholas Miller, a senior director at General Electric’s energy consulting arm, said about developing the grid in accordance with renewable energy growth. “Germany didn’t see 20 Gigawatts with a ‘G’ (of solar) coming in in 24 months. They got their interconnection rules wrong … and it’s costing them a quarter of a billion dollars to put the genie back into the bottle.”
While Ehrhardt acknowledges the fact that National Grid has signed an agreement with Deepwater, he believes there should be some re-negotiating about this agreement. "There are contracts in place, so I'm not suggesting we just walk away from our obligations, as foolish as they may be," said Erhardt, referring to the PPA between National Grid and Deepwater. "Instead, we should consider contractual renegotiating, by trying to come up with a buyout asking Deepwater to reimburse us."
When the Rhode Island Supreme Court ruled that our legislature had required consideration of only the “benefits” and not the costs of the Block Island project, it wrote: “this Court recognizes the parade of irrational possibilities that could incur from this legislative direction.” We are now facing those irrational possibilities to the economic detriment of our citizens. That $535 million is a lot of money.
The council voted in May to affirm a subcommittee decision that concluded that the five plaintiffs — Jon Ives, Rosemarie Ives, Katy Ives, Michael Beauregard and John Lyons — as well as three other objectors had failed to demonstrate “particularized” harm from the five-turbine wind farm proposed by Providence-based Deepwater Wind in waters about three miles southeast of Block Island.
Deepwater Wind announced on Tuesday, Sept. 24, that it plans to install its electric transmission cable at Scarborough State Beach, located in Narragansett, R.I. Deepwater had originally planned to install the cable at Narragansett Town Beach, but withdrew those plans in August due to opposition from residents and the Narragansett Town Council.
The proposal to use Scarborough Beach follows Deepwater's announcement on Aug. 5 that it was dropping a plan to make landfall at the town beach after residents had banded together in opposition, raising concerns that cable construction could damage local tourism. The company said it would look for a more appropriate site.
Like many densely populated areas, Rhode Island has problems with siting wind turbines. Whether or not the problems are real, turbines bring out complaints. The latest protest is from a group of residents living near the Safe Way Auto Center wind turbine, on Gooding Avenue. The 110-foot-high, 50-kilowatt turbine is modest, but big enough and perhaps loud enough to bother residents living 1,000 or so feet from the machine.