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Fresh air

The Ocean State recently granted a New Jersey-based renewable energy firm the right to build an industrial-size wind farm about 20 miles off the coast of Rhode Island. DeepwaterWind CEO Chris Brown told the Associated Press his firm builds turbines on large platforms originally designed for offshore drilling rigs, which means they can operate in deep waters and out of sight of land. He expects to build around 100 turbines offshore. "What we've really focused on is that we want to be beyond the horizon," Brown said. "We don't think that you have to choose between...the view and the environment."

The Ocean State recently granted a New Jersey-based renewable energy firm the right to build an industrial-size wind farm about 20 miles off the coast of Rhode Island.

DeepwaterWind CEO Chris Brown told the Associated Press his firm builds turbines on large platforms originally designed for offshore drilling rigs, which means they can operate in deep waters and out of sight of land. He expects to build around 100 turbines offshore.

"What we've really focused on is that we want to be beyond the horizon," Brown said. "We don't think that you have to choose between...the view and the environment."

But the real significance of the news, in the context of our own controversial Cape Wind project, is the process that led to the selection of DeepwaterWind.

As recently as April 2007, Rhode Island energy officials commissioned a study of Narragansett Bay and the larger areas around it to identify possible sites for more than 300 turbines.

By June 2007, the study identified 10 sites, which were ranked according to several factors, including the visibility of the projects from shore.

Then, last fall, an extensive stakeholder process was organized to evaluate the study,... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The Ocean State recently granted a New Jersey-based renewable energy firm the right to build an industrial-size wind farm about 20 miles off the coast of Rhode Island.

DeepwaterWind CEO Chris Brown told the Associated Press his firm builds turbines on large platforms originally designed for offshore drilling rigs, which means they can operate in deep waters and out of sight of land. He expects to build around 100 turbines offshore.

"What we've really focused on is that we want to be beyond the horizon," Brown said. "We don't think that you have to choose between...the view and the environment."

But the real significance of the news, in the context of our own controversial Cape Wind project, is the process that led to the selection of DeepwaterWind.

As recently as April 2007, Rhode Island energy officials commissioned a study of Narragansett Bay and the larger areas around it to identify possible sites for more than 300 turbines.

By June 2007, the study identified 10 sites, which were ranked according to several factors, including the visibility of the projects from shore.

Then, last fall, an extensive stakeholder process was organized to evaluate the study, according to Business Wire. Participants in four stakeholder meetings included city and town representatives, environmental organizations, local economic development organizations, commercial and recreational fishing interests, state government agencies, the Coast Guard and National Grid officials.

Following the stakeholder process, Rhode Island sought bids from private companies to build an offshore wind farm. Seven bids were evaluated on the basis of total cost to Rhode Island ratepayers, the qualification and experience of the bidder in building wind projects, and other factors.

The winning bidder, DeepwaterWind, will now pay $3 million so Rhode Island environmental officials can study how the state should utilize its sea floor, just as cities and towns designate certain zones for homes, business and industrial use.

"Think of it as a clear road map for development," said Saul Kaplan, executive director of Rhode Island's Economic Development Corp.

The state has recruited a team of oceanographers, engineers and other experts at the University of Rhode Island to map and zone state and federal coastal waters to determine the best locations for the turbines.

According to the Providence Journal, the state planning project is being led by Grover Fugate, executive director of the Coastal Resources Management Council, the agency that regulates the state's coastline and state waters.

The federal Minerals Management Agency is drafting regulations that will allow it to open up federal waters to wind farms. But Fugate maintains that federal consistency regulations outlined in the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 require that federal actions, such as permitting of wind farms, must be consistent with state coastal policies. That, he argues, means Rhode Island will have major input over permitting in nearby federal waters, too.

Fugate is right, but in Massachusetts, Ian Bowles, the state environmental secretary, is so caught up in the rush to develop offshore wind power at any cost that he is not pushing the consistency doctrine.

What a shame. Just imagine if Massachusetts had pursued the same path as Rhode Island as far back as 2001, when Cape Wind placed a stake in the middle of Nantucket Sound. A wind farm 10 or 20 miles offshore would probably be operating right now off Massachusetts.


Source: http://www.capecodonline.co...

OCT 19 2008
https://www.windaction.org/posts/17552-fresh-air
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