Library filed under General from Rhode Island
I spent the better part of a week trying to learn why and, after many not-returned phone calls and emails, I finally got a statement from a Rhode Island public relations firm that called the shutdown "ongoing routine summer maintenance" that is expected to continue for "the next few weeks."
The town signed a public-private agreement with Ipswich Wind Independence LLC in 2011 to build Wind II (Wind I is town-owned). The town’s electric light department (ELD) agreed to buy power from the company, and the town also collected around $1.3 million in property tax. However, a fire in October 2018 knocked Wind II out of action. To complicate matters, there were rumors that Ipswich Wind Independence was in financial difficulties — and the town discovered no bond had been paid to ensure safe removal of the structure. The turbine was not repairable, as the manufacturer, Hyundai, had withdrawn from the turbine business.
Green Development, LLC, one of Rhode Island’s largest renewable energy developers, announced Tuesday that it’s received approval to construct three 1.5-megawatt wind turbines in Providence.
“Because, after all this surveying work the companies did, they determined like we asked them several years ago that the best way to bury these cables was by horizontal directional drilling and that is what they are going to do,” CRMC’s interim executive director Jeffrey Willis said when the plan was finalized by the CRMC board at its Sept. 8 meeting. The drilling is expected to begin in October and finish over the winter.
The electric cables for the Block Island Wind Farm were supposed to be buried in trenches at least four feet below the seabed, but workers couldn’t get down as far as they wanted, and over the last four years waves have exposed portions of the transmission lines that run to and from a beach on the island. Now, Orsted, plans to rebury one of the two cables starting in the fall. ...But for an indeterminate amount of time during construction, the 30-megawatt wind farm, which cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build, will have to go offline.
Several residents took advantage of the public forum during Monday’s Town Council meeting to question the mandate of the Conservation Commission and the involvement of its chairman, Harvey Buford, in advocating the installation of industrial wind turbines in the town.
Najarian also criticized the company’s defense of the shadow flicker, disagreeing with the argument that a projected 10 hours of flicker per year for some neighbors fell well within an industry standard that considers up to 30 hours an acceptable amount. “Why should an abutting resident be expected to find one minute of flicker acceptable, never mind 10 hours?” he said.
National Grid Rhode Island, the state’s main electricity distributor, is seeking the commission’s approval of its contract with Orsted US Offshore Wind to supply 400 megawatts of electricity from its Revolution Wind project in federal waters off the Rhode Island coast. The estimated cost of the project is about $1 billion.
At 462.5 feet, the proposed wind turbine is about 430 feet taller than the maximum 35-foot height currently allowed by the town zoning ordinance, so the developer will have to seek a dimensional variance in order to move forward to the next stage of the application. The developer also needs a special use permit to construct a wind turbine in a residential agricultural district.
Lanny Dellinger, chairman of the Fishermen’s Advisory Board (FAB), and Grover Fugate, executive director of the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), admitted that Vineyard Wind had the leverage in negotiations and that agreeing to a slightly improved compensation offer is better than no deal at all.
Dellinger, a lobsterman, had said in December that “the industry doesn’t want a mitigation strategy.” “The whole process needs to slow down,” he said. “We’re in such a rush.” Among the points of contention is Vineyard Wind’s planned layout. Commercial fishermen want an east-west grid pattern but Vineyard Wind currently has a northeast-to-southwest grid plan.
“I see five unobstructed, 519-foot turbines from any window along the back of my home and from every part of my entire backyard,” one resident said Monday night during a City Council meeting at City Hall.
Although its projects are helping to reduce energy costs for municipalities and other public entities, have won contracts through the state, and been embraced by people like Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena, they have not been universally welcomed. Some residents of Coventry in particular have complained of shadow flicker and noise and objected to the visual impact of the 414-foot-tall turbines in a largely rural part of that community.
Danish energy business Orsted has entered into an agreement with the U.S.-based D.E. Shaw Group to buy a 100 percent equity interest in its offshore wind developer Deepwater Wind.
Responding to criticism aired at two recent Town Council meetings about the noise and shadows generated by the town wind turbine, the chairman of the company that owns it said the machine is operating the same, if not better, than the first turbine that stood there.
Last year, Green Development won 20-year contracts with National Grid to sell power from two of the Johnston turbines through the state’s Renewable Energy Growth Program, an initiative created by the General Assembly that sets prices for qualifying solar arrays, small hydropower systems and wind turbines. The turbines, at 0 Shun Pike and 2141 Plainfield Pike, will sell their power for 18.24 cents per kilowatt hour.
Professor John King, from the University of Rhode Island's School of Oceanography, and his crew, performed Electromagnetic Field cable readings at the Town Beach on Monday, Dec. 18. The device they are dragging along the sand is called the SEMLA, which is an acronym for Swedish Electromagnetic Low-noise Apparatus, as it was created by Swedish engineer Peter Sigray.
With nearly 3,000 registered taxpayers casting ballots, the measure passed with 50.2 percent of the vote. While no windmill ever was constructed, the $6.5 million in potential borrowing has been hanging over the town’s head. As that vote reaches its seven-year anniversary, however, the town is ready to relinquish the burden.
Town documents show the height for the proposed turbines would be 519 feet. By comparison, Providence’s Superman building stands at approximately 428 feet, and the New England Institute of Technology turbine is 156 feet. Polisena says neighbors shouldn’t be concerned.
Balser goes on to say she believes Block Island was chosen for the first in the nation wind farm because of its small, transient population. “There were bigger motives. Get the first one in the ground where you’ll have the least amount of legal opposition and then, wham, build on it everywhere else,” she says.