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Which way should wind (power) blow?

This week, the state of Rhode Island selected a New Jersey-based company, Deepwater Wind, to finance and construct a 100-turbine windfarm between 15 and 20 miles off shore. The project is estimated to cost $1.5 billion. ...Maine's approach to wind power development - land and offshore - is different. Instead of directing the process, this state has allowed firms to develop their own plans. The process is slow and the results, so far, mixed. Site-by-site proposals from companies have resulted in uneven regulatory reviews and divergent opinions on its gains or drains.

Maine can take hold of policy, or let policy take hold.

Neither way is foolproof, but efforts by a fellow New England state should prove - about offshore wind power - which method is more fruitful in the long-term.

This week, the state of Rhode Island selected a New Jersey-based company, Deepwater Wind, to finance and construct a 100-turbine windfarm between 15 and 20 miles off shore. The project is estimated to cost $1.5 billion.

This selection came from a competitive bidding process, according to the Providence Journal, in which six companies vied to build turbines in Rhode Island waters. Deepwater Wind now has exclusive development rights.

No tax breaks are included in the deal, the newspaper reported. Deepwater sweetened its proposal, as well, by offering to build a turbine manufacturing center in Rhode Island, and intending to employ 800 people.

And the electricity from the 385-megawatt offshore windfarm will be sold to the state.

Maine's approach to wind power development - land and offshore - is different. Instead of directing the process, this state has allowed firms to develop their own plans. The process is slow and the results, so far, mixed.

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Maine can take hold of policy, or let policy take hold.

Neither way is foolproof, but efforts by a fellow New England state should prove - about offshore wind power - which method is more fruitful in the long-term.

This week, the state of Rhode Island selected a New Jersey-based company, Deepwater Wind, to finance and construct a 100-turbine windfarm between 15 and 20 miles off shore. The project is estimated to cost $1.5 billion.

This selection came from a competitive bidding process, according to the Providence Journal, in which six companies vied to build turbines in Rhode Island waters. Deepwater Wind now has exclusive development rights.

No tax breaks are included in the deal, the newspaper reported. Deepwater sweetened its proposal, as well, by offering to build a turbine manufacturing center in Rhode Island, and intending to employ 800 people.

And the electricity from the 385-megawatt offshore windfarm will be sold to the state.

Maine's approach to wind power development - land and offshore - is different. Instead of directing the process, this state has allowed firms to develop their own plans. The process is slow and the results, so far, mixed.

Site-by-site proposals from companies have resulted in uneven regulatory reviews and divergent opinions on its gains or drains. Advocates for Maine's environment have differed wildly on projects, due to individual interests.

When the state entered the policymaking realm on wind, the result was less-than-focused legislation that opened the entirety of organized Maine to expedited wind project reviews. The first test case for this policy - Independence Wind's projects in Byron and Roxbury - has proven the theory might need some work.

Meanwhile, former governor Angus King has honed his "Saudi Arabia of Wind" analogy to describe the power potential in the Gulf of Maine. A Massachusetts developer has been said to have met with state officials about realizing this promise. Nothing is yet planned.

Two states, two approaches, one issue. The states have much in common: broad coastlines, smallish populations, chronic issues over gaming, energy costs and high taxes. Even both governors are Italian-Americans: Don Carcieri and John Baldacci. (Though one is a Republican and the other a Democrat.)

Comparing their progress is worthy, especially on wind power. Rhode Island's state-directed efforts toward the industry has potential, although agreeing to deal with only one entity removes the state's critical competitive leverage.

But Maine's more open approach - so far - has left it without leverage from the start.

We'll monitor each state's efforts going forward. Today, Rhode Island has a contractor, a proposed manufacturing center, zero tax breaks and the agreement that electricity will be sold in-state.

It sure seems like everything Maine would want in a project. Every one of these facets - which company, the manufacturing potential, potential tax incentives and recipients of the electricity - have been debated here.

Rhode Island got this deal through hands-on efforts.

Can Maine's government achieve the same hands-off?

We'll be watching to find out.


Source: http://www.sunjournal.com/s...

SEP 28 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/17279-which-way-should-wind-power-blow
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