Articles filed under Offshore Wind from Rhode Island
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.
Rhode Island fishermen say a patch of the Atlantic Ocean south of Martha’s Vineyard is among the best places around to catch squid. They are also the same waters in which a developer selected by Massachusetts plans to install up to 100 giant wind turbines that would supply clean, renewable energy to the state.
The representatives are renewing their calls for a study commission in light of Deepwater Wind’s recent announcement of plans to expand the offshore wind farm off the Rhode Island coast.
Massachusetts and Rhode Island have announced offshore wind projects aimed at delivering a combined 1,200 megawatts of energy, enough to power 400,000 homes.
That Block Island price, which started at 24.4 cents per kilowatt hour and is escalating at 3.5 percent a year, is significantly higher than the price National Grid pays for power from fossil fuel-burning generators and other conventional sources. It is, however, competitive with other renewable energy projects that have been developed in Rhode Island. It is unclear whether Vineyard Wind’s price is lower than the price from the Deepwater project.
Many fisherpeople see a future where segments of their industry will ultimately disappear unless the federal government ensures their concerns are taken into account in the construction and development of wind farms. Fisherpeople’s fears include the incompatibility of certain types of fishing gear with the clustered placement of wind turbines and a lack of site-specific research regarding economic and ecological impacts of the turbines.
“Squid, flounders, scallops and other species need sandy bottom without structure to thrive,” she said. “So, the turbine bases not only destroy their habitat, but also introduce an entirely different ecosystem that attracts species that didn’t aggregate in the area before.”
“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.
“The idea that we subsidize any business on the backs of ratepayers is poor policy and to have regular Rhode Islanders pay 24 cents per kilowatt hour in a state that already has higher costs than normal is an unfortunate way to use the little people to subsidize a corporate welfare program,” said Giovanni Cicione, a local lawyer, conservative activist, and former chairman of the state GOP.
“If necropsy shows that a perfectly healthy whale beached itself where offshore wind turbines do exist, they need to really check what kind of sound these things are putting out,” Bonnie Brady, director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association who regularly discusses the impacts of noise on marine mammals, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “There have been an unusual amount of strandings this year.”
Wright was told that the revised cost of the substation would be $1,835,973 rather than the $550,000 previously estimated. The cost of the transmission cable also went from an initial estimated price tag of $75,000,000 to $125,575,127. Block Island rate payers will bear the entire cost of the substation. The cost of the transmission cable will be socialized.
A turbine isn't spinning at the nation's first offshore wind farm, but repairs are expected to be complete soon. ...There was an issue with a cable connection on the turbine, but it should be back up within days, said Paul Murphy, the company’s vice president for operations and engineering. The same turbine previously was taken offline while its generator was repaired after a drill bit was left inside.