Library filed under Offshore Wind from Rhode Island
A doozy of a fight played out at a Rhode Island State House hearing just before the pandemic shut down this year’s legislative session. It involved: Arsenic-laced “tunnel muck.”
Fugate said that if the PUC votes to have the companies pay for the project out of pocket, the decision would be litigated. In July 2019, however, Ørsted told The Block Island Times that it would pay for the re-installation and not pass the cost of the project off to the public. National Grid has stated to the paper in the past that the cost of reinstalling a section of its sea2shore cable might be shared by mainland and island ratepayers.
Doug Christel, a fishing policy analyst at NOAA, responded a week later. The federal agency had not been closely tracking the state process but had discussed Lapp's concerns, he said. "Similar to some of your comments, we feel the DEIS [draft environmental impact statement] underestimates landings from within the WDA," he wrote, referring to the wind development area leased by Vineyard Wind from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
This segment highlights the impacts and risks of constructing wind turbines along the US eastern coast.
Little is known about how marine life will respond to the electromagnetic fields emanating from the spiderweb of cables carrying electricity from the Block Island Wind Farm and the many other offshore wind-power installations planned for the East Coast. But a new series of studies by a team of oceanographers at the University of Rhode Island suggests that some organisms will definitely be impacted.
Vineyard Wind already agreed to a nearly $17 million mitigation package in Rhode Island. But it doesn’t look like that will be enough. The fishing industry still has many issues. For example, the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association is worried about the effect these giant towers could have on boat radar, and the impediments that transmission cables could cause.
Although the three commission members all voted to approve the agreement, they each acknowledged the risks associated with the wind farm and the uncertainties surrounding the benefits to electric customers. If the price of certificates representing the environmental benefits of renewable energy fails to increase as projected, then the contract could cost consumers in the long run, said commissioner Abigail Anthony. Additionally, much of the savings are expected to come on windy winter days when the wind farm is expected to displace more expensive oil generators or natural gas-burning plants that may charge a premium. If those savings are lower, the net benefits may be too, Anthony said.
In a unanimous vote at the special meeting, the Fishermen’s Advisory Board accepted the new offer that includes $4.2 million in payments over 30 years for direct impacts to commercial fishermen from Vineyard Wind’s 84-turbine wind farm proposed in Rhode Island Sound, as well as the creation of a $12.5-million trust set up over five years that could be used to cover additional costs to fishermen resulting from the project.
Rich Fuka, spokesperson for the Rhode Island Fishermen's Alliance, when asked how to balance out the need for renewable energy versus the needs of the fishing industry in Rhode Island, responded by saying, "That's my favorite question. You let the real players, real stakeholders, sit at the table and say, “Look, here's what we have for a fishing industry. Can you move those windmills out further across from the squid stocks?' The answer is: it's not cost effective."
The first utility-scale wind farm proposed for U.S. waters will face a crucial vote in Rhode Island as fishermen’s groups threaten to block the project. Today, the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) is expected to decide whether to certify the 84-turbine Vineyard Wind proposal as consistent with state policies that govern the shared use of the ocean.
Two weeks ago the Fishermen’s Advisory Board (FAB) received a financial compensation offer from Vineyard Wind for the disruption the 84-turbine facility would have on commercial fishing grounds. With money from Vineyard Wind, the FAB hired an economist to study the offer and an attorney to help with legal issues, and now both parties want more time to review and negotiate.
Fishermen and council staff tried to convince Vineyard Wind to widen spacing between its turbines and change their configuration to align with industry-standard fishing lanes in the area, but the company argued that its tight schedule for construction prevented such changes. With the sides deadlocked, talk turned to mitigation.
Less than three weeks before Rhode Island coastal regulators are set to vote on a key approval for its $2-billion offshore wind farm, Vineyard Wind has yet to come forward with a compensation package for the state’s commercial fishermen who say that the layout of the company’s 84 turbines will block access to valuable Atlantic Ocean fishing grounds.
The recent record-breaking auction of development rights for offshore wind-energy installations off the coast of southern New England proves that developers are confident that obstacles to their construction and operation will likely be few. But after just two years of operation of the nation’s first offshore wind facility — the much-heralded Block Island Wind Farm — there is still a great deal unknown about their long-term environmental impact.
Although the wind farm would be built in federal waters and supply power to Massachusetts, Rhode Island has the latitude to effectively veto it. By law, development in federal waters cannot interfere with a state’s coastal activities, such as fishing, and must comply with state regulations.
Rhode Island coastal regulators granted Vineyard Wind a stay in permitting proceedings on Tuesday, giving the New Bedford company another two months to reach agreement with fishermen who say they would lose access to valuable fishing grounds in the waters where 84 wind turbines would be installed.
Deepwater, which submitted its bid before the name change took effect, is proposing two options: a 100-megawatt project or a 350-megawatt alternative. Vineyard, too, has put forward a choice, between a 200-megawatt project and one of 350 megawatts.
In the summer, Aripotch patrols for squid and weakfish in the area where the 15 South Fork wind turbines and others wind projects are planned. He expects the wind facilities and undersea cables will shrink fishing grounds along the Eastern Seaboard. “If you put 2,000 wind turbines from the Nantucket Shoals to New York City, I’m losing 50 to 60 percent of my fishing grounds,” Aripotch said during a Nov. 8 public hearing at the Narragansett Community Center.
At a recent joint meeting with CRMC’s Fishermen’s Advisory Board and Habitat Advisory Board, fishermen said the cables can harm fishing gear. They said the electrical voltage may cause sharks to bite the cables, while the voltage may slow fish and disrupt the food chain. The fishermen also wanted assurances that Deepwater Wind wouldn’t abandon the wind farms’ cables, towers, and foundations after they exceed their use in 20 years or so.
Deepwater is set to embark on a study that could last a month or more to determine the underwater geology of 256 square miles of Rhode Island Sound about 18 miles southeast of Block Island. There, in waters that it’s leasing from the federal government, the Providence-based company plans to install dozens and dozens of wind turbines.