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Environmental groups oppose moratorium on offshore renewable-energy projects

Two of Rhode Island's most active environmental groups have come out against a proposal by the staff of the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council to put a one-year moratorium on applications from developers to build wind- and wave-energy projects in state waters. Grover Fugate, the CRMC's executive director, has said implementing a moratorium would enable the state agency responsible for regulating Rhode Island's waters and coastline to avoid the risk of costly, drawn-out political battles over wind farm proposals - similar to the decade-old effort by developer Cape Wind Associates to build a wind farm in Massachusetts' Nantucket Sound - while drafting zoning regulations for offshore energy projects here.

Two of Rhode Island's most active environmental groups have come out against a proposal by the staff of the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council to put a one-year moratorium on applications from developers to build wind- and wave-energy projects in state waters.

Grover Fugate, the CRMC's executive director, has said implementing a moratorium would enable the state agency responsible for regulating Rhode Island's waters and coastline to avoid the risk of costly, drawn-out political battles over wind farm proposals - similar to the decade-old effort by developer Cape Wind Associates to build a wind farm in Massachusetts' Nantucket Sound - while drafting zoning regulations for offshore energy projects here.

A public hearing on the proposal will be held at the Narragansett Bay Commission in Providence on Tuesday, March 11, at 6 p.m. All other business has been cleared from the meeting agenda, and the CRMC could vote on the proposal immediately following the hearing or could remand the proposal back to the agency's staff for further study, CRMC spokeswoman Laura Ricketson-Dwyer said today.

The moratorium is opposed by Environment Rhode Island and the Conservation Law Foundation, despite the fact that both... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Two of Rhode Island's most active environmental groups have come out against a proposal by the staff of the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council to put a one-year moratorium on applications from developers to build wind- and wave-energy projects in state waters.

Grover Fugate, the CRMC's executive director, has said implementing a moratorium would enable the state agency responsible for regulating Rhode Island's waters and coastline to avoid the risk of costly, drawn-out political battles over wind farm proposals - similar to the decade-old effort by developer Cape Wind Associates to build a wind farm in Massachusetts' Nantucket Sound - while drafting zoning regulations for offshore energy projects here.

A public hearing on the proposal will be held at the Narragansett Bay Commission in Providence on Tuesday, March 11, at 6 p.m. All other business has been cleared from the meeting agenda, and the CRMC could vote on the proposal immediately following the hearing or could remand the proposal back to the agency's staff for further study, CRMC spokeswoman Laura Ricketson-Dwyer said today.

The moratorium is opposed by Environment Rhode Island and the Conservation Law Foundation, despite the fact that both organizations agree the CRMC should create new zoning regulations for state waters in anticipation of a slew of expected wind farm and wave- energy proposals.

In a letter signed by both organizations and submitted to the CRMC on Monday, the environmental groups said the CRMC staff should postpone making a decision about the moratorium until or unless they can provide more details on the proposal.

In particular, they said CRMC should detail the project's costs, discuss where the money would come from, and specify exactly where a proposed meteorological tower would be built and what other experimental projects, pilot efforts or data collection would be needed.

"I encourage CRMC to make that plan public, and we shall see," said Cynthia Giles, executive director of the Conservation Law Foundation's state advocacy office.

The environmental groups' concern about the proposed moratorium puts them in agreement with Gov. Donald L. Carcieri, who has said it would unnecessarily slow the development of renewable-energy projects in the state. Carcieri's administration has been working for more than a year to attract and fund renewable-energy projects capable of providing up to 15 percent of Rhode Island's energy needs.

This afternoon, R.I. Senate leaders were expected to announce a package of four new energy bills, in the General Assembly, aimed at promoting renewable energy in the state.

The first measure would require existing state public buildings to purchase energy from renewable sources in an amount coinciding with the state renewable-energy standard, which increases from 4.5 percent in 2011 to 16 percent in 2019.

Another bill would put two existing renewable-energy grant funds currently administered by the state Office of Energy Resources and the R.I. Economic Development Corporation under the sole administration of the EDC.

The third measure - crafted by a coalition of environmental groups, renewable-energy developers and electric and natural gas utility National Grid - would enable National Grid to enter into long-term contracts for renewable, locally generated electricity. The move, which local environmentalists have been advocating for several years, is expected to promote private financing of large renewable-energy projects in the state.

The fourth bill would raise caps on net metering, enabling cities, towns and educational institutions that generate their own electricity, via wind turbines and solar panels, to sell more electricity back to National Grid than is currently allowed. For municipal projects, the bill would increase the maximum scale of each project to allow for the equivalent power generation of two wind turbines per project.


Source: http://www.pbn.com/stories/...

MAR 6 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/13701-environmental-groups-oppose-moratorium-on-offshore-renewable-energy-projects
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