Library filed under Impact on Economy from Rhode Island
“Newport residents, as well as residents of other Communities, have received new electric and gas bills that are giving them anxiety and sticker shock due to huge increases; And... the new distribution charges are increasing bills by huge percentages and are compromising residents’ ability to pay necessary life expenses for rent, food, medical needs; And... the RI PUC’s decision to put the significant increase in renewable power costs from off-shore wind and net-metering into the Distribution charge and not the Power Charge so that consumers cannot opt to purchase equivalent power from outside Rhode Island as provided by law...”
Scola is concerned about state and federal regulations. But his big concern is the prospect of hundreds, and perhaps even thousands, of giant wind turbines spread out in the New York Bight, an area along the Atlantic Coast that extends from southern New Jersey to Montauk Point. It’s one of the most productive fishing grounds on the Eastern Seaboard.
Ratepayers are expected to pay an above-market price of $440 million for Deepwater’s energy over the next two decades, according to a 2015 filing with the state Public Utilities Commission. Critics say total tab will be more than $500 million, due to added costs, like laying the cable linking Block Island to the mainland. This cost sparked the filing of a federal lawsuit last year that attempts to undo the contract between the utility company National Grid and Deepwater Wind.
RIMA’s objection to the Deepwater Wind project is the pricing mechanism that is in place and how that was established. The overall cost for electricity generated by Deepwater Wind is about four to five times that of natural gas and other renewable sources ...The excess, above-market cost to ratepayers will be about $497 million over 20 years (not including investment tax credits, the cost for the oversize cable, and other direct projects costs).
“Our decision not to initiate an enforcement action means that Mr. Riggs may himself bring an enforcement action against the Rhode Island Commission in the appropriate court,” commissioners wrote.
“The states and NESCOE are deliberately working out the details of this plan in secret, consistent with the view of one of NESCOE’s staffers that the plan should be ‘formulated behind closed doors’ because the ‘court of public opinion can be fickle and recalcitrant,’ ” Courchesne wrote, quoting an email from a NESCOE staff member to Executive Director Heather Hunt.
It’s not just the town that has a stake in the windmill. The idle turbine is a black eye for Rhode Island’s wind-power industry, which has stalled in recent years, and for state government, which has worked hard to develop local sources of renewable energy.
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 Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the Deepwater Wind project. Chamber President Laurie White criticized the opponents of this overly expensive and ill-advised offshore wind turbine proposal. Her chamber's position is incomprehensible, because the project will do nothing for any of its members, excluding Deepwater Wind and National Grid, except increase their electricity rates.
Four years ago nine East Bay communities formed a partnership to explore making money from wind turbines, with the help of nearly half a million dollar of public seed money. That, in turn, attracted interest from a private developer and a potential $55 million project of his own. Instead of embracing it, The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation - which provided the seed money - saw it as a threat. And Jim Hummel finds that heading into 2013 the fate of the public project is unclear. Duration: 9 minutes 43 seconds
As I reported in Saturday's paper, New England is experiencing a remarkable spike in electricity prices brought on by high heating demand and rising natural gas prices for electric generators.
Deepwater Wind's initial project will raise state and local governments' electric bills by a combined $1.5 million in its first year, according to documents reviewed by the Target 12 Investigators. Municipal electric bills will increase by a total of $1 million while state government's bill will rise by $476,630, according to an estimate commissioned by National Grid from Energy Security Analysis Inc. The cost would rise by 3.5 percent every year for the next two decades.
The Rhode Island Manufacturers Association has filed a brief with the state Supreme Court that opposes a power-purchase agreement signed between the state's largest electric utility and an offshore-wind power developer. The association submitted the amicus brief last week but has yet to learn whether it will be accepted.
The R.I. Economic Development Corporation said Thursday that its study of the economic impact of an offshore wind farm looked only at the positives. Asked by Toray Plastics (America) Inc. if the study factored in potential negative effects of the farm's above-market electric rates, the EDC replied, simply, "No."
Outside the hearing room, Lynch said that for someone of Mazze's stature to testify "so eloquently how bad this project is for Rhode Island confirms that my position [opposing the wind farm contract] is the appropriate one for Rhode Island citizens." Lynch also referred to a cable to deliver electricity to Block Island, which is part of the proposed eight-turbine project.
TransCanada argues that the Rhode Island law governing renewable-power contracts violates the Commerce Clause in the U.S. Constitution because it favors in-state projects. The law, enacted a year ago, discriminates against out-of-state energy producers and thereby restricts interstate commerce, says TransCanada.
"I have seen no testimony from any party that assures the state that these economic development events will happen, and I am of the opinion that they will not happen," Edward M. Mazze, distinguished university professor of business administration at the University of Rhode Island, said in written testimony filed on Monday. Mazze testified on behalf of Toray Plastics America and Polytop Corp.
National Grid has agreed to pay Deepwater Wind the same price previously negotiated for electricity from a wind farm planned in waters off Block Island but, in a new contract proposal filed with state regulators on Wednesday, the two sides left open the possibility of a lower price.
Block Island could meet most of its electricity needs through clean energy generated by the eight-turbine wind farm proposed for southeast of the island, at reasonable prices usually associated with fossil fuel generation, Deepwater Wind CEO Bill Moore testified to the Pubic Utilities Commission Wednesday. However, that does not factor in the cost of a cable connecting Block Island to the mainland — essential to the viability of the project — or the above-market costs that mainland ratepayers would have to shoulder.
The executive director of the Energy Council of Rhode Island, a nonprofit organization known as TEC-RI that represents 35 of the state's biggest manufacturers, universities and hospitals, testified on Tuesday against an agreement under which Deepwater Wind would sell power generated by the offshore wind farm at more than twice the price National Grid pays for electricity from conventional sources.