Articles from Rhode Island
The business groups argue that halting the surcharges would provide some rate relief to both commercial and residential customers at a time when many are having financial difficulties as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown. “We’re not looking to decimate these programs, but we are saying, ‘We’ve got to take a breather,’” said Doug Gablinske, executive director of the Energy Council of Rhode Island, which represents large energy users.
The rural opposition has been so strong that earlier this year, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo added a provision, known as Article 23, to the state budget that effectively strips local communities of their ability to stop big renewable-energy projects from being built in their jurisdictions. ...New Englanders like the idea of wind energy they just don’t want any wind turbines in New England. So they are putting them in New York.
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.”
Those types of disputes are “what we’re trying to avoid happening now,” said Annie Hawkins, executive director of the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance, or RODA. The coalition of fishing stakeholders aims to get the industry on the same page as researchers and wind developers across the region. “We’re trying to make sure fishermen are much more involved in the process from day one,” Hawkins said. She’d like to see more work across state lines to coordinate policy and research.
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.
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.
Mark DePasquale, founder of Green Development LLC, often turns to legal action when things don’t fall his way.
A Rhode Island renewable energy developer says it plans to sue the towns of Coventry and Exeter for a total of about $285 million, saying the corporation has been illegally deprived of its rights to develop solar projects in those towns.
Seven U.S. senators from New England on Monday urged ISO-NE to “return to the table with stakeholders” and more closely align its fuel security initiative with state policies seeking to speed the transition to renewable energy resources.
Mark DePasquale, founder of Green Development LLC, embodies the tension surrounding renewable-energy development in Rhode Island. He’s both lauded and vilified. One of his projects, in the woods of Coventry, exemplifies the controversy that follows the state’s most prominent developer of wind and solar energy.
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.
Three months after the Zoning Board unanimously rejected a plan to build a wind turbine at 810 Old Smithfield Road, the developer is back with a new plan for the property, this time to construct a solar farm.
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.
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.
Glander went on to write that the Coast Guard may make the same recommendation for Vineyard Wind that it did for the Block Island Wind Farm, a research analysis indicating whether the turbines “produce radar reflections, blind spots, shadow areas, or other effects that could adversely impact safety of navigation.” If there are negative impacts to marine radar, Glander wrote, Vineyard Wind should recommend how to remedy them. If such remedies are necessary, he wrote they should be “funded by Vineyard Wind.”
Despite the fact the project was denied, DePasquale began prepping the two properties for the installation of solar arrays anyway. In early June, the Department of Planning & Development issued a cease-and-desist order for DePasquale’s unauthorized solar installation. A week later, on June 10, the town issued a finalized order, requiring that DePasquale remove all pilings and cease all work on the property except for seeding, loaming, and related landscape clean-up activities.
The amendment was proposed by Town Council member Sylvia Thompson, who asked the Planning Board to provide an advisory opinion on the matter to the council. Thompson said there was insufficient information on the possible effects of large wind turbines. “There’s just too many unknowns for the town to move forward on this, I believe. Let’s not allow any in town until we fully understand all the ramifications.”
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.
Locally, Massachusetts and Rhode Island commercial and recreation fishermen continue to be concerned about the lack of habitat and fish studies before development starts in wind farm lease areas.
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.