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SouthCoast Wind appeals decision by Rhode Island regulators to pause its siting application

Providence Journal|Alex Kuffner|July 31, 2023
Rhode IslandLegalOffshore Wind

SouthCoast Wind is appealing the recent decision by state regulators to suspend the company’s application to bring an electric cable up the Sakonnet River from its proposed $5-billion offshore wind farm. The company on Friday filed with the Rhode Island Supreme Court an appeal of the Energy Facility Siting Board’s unanimous ruling last month to pause consideration of the application for the transmission line until questions about the financial viability of the 2,400-megawatt project are cleared up. 


PROVIDENCE – SouthCoast Wind is appealing the recent decision by state regulators to suspend the company’s application to bring an electric cable up the Sakonnet River from its proposed $5-billion offshore wind farm. 

The company on Friday filed with the Rhode Island Supreme Court an appeal of the Energy Facility Siting Board’s unanimous ruling last month to pause consideration of the application for the transmission line until questions about the financial viability of the 2,400-megawatt project are cleared up. 

“The SouthCoast Wind project is vital to the region’s mandated goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, prioritizing the development of clean energy resources and creating economic growth,” Daniel Hubbard, general counsel for …

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PROVIDENCE – SouthCoast Wind is appealing the recent decision by state regulators to suspend the company’s application to bring an electric cable up the Sakonnet River from its proposed $5-billion offshore wind farm. 

The company on Friday filed with the Rhode Island Supreme Court an appeal of the Energy Facility Siting Board’s unanimous ruling last month to pause consideration of the application for the transmission line until questions about the financial viability of the 2,400-megawatt project are cleared up. 

“The SouthCoast Wind project is vital to the region’s mandated goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, prioritizing the development of clean energy resources and creating economic growth,” Daniel Hubbard, general counsel for SouthCoast Wind, said in a statement. “By requiring the RI EFSB to move forward with our application, the Rhode Island Supreme Court can ensure that Rhode Island’s goals to have 100% renewable energy by 2033 and become a major East Coast offshore wind hub continue to progress.” 

Siting board paused SouthCoast's application after company walked away from Massachusetts contracts

The siting board voted to stay its proceedings after SouthCoast Wind decided to terminate a set of long-term contracts it signed to sell power to utilities in Massachusetts. The company said that the war in Ukraine and inflation had pushed up the costs of construction and that the prices in the agreements wouldn’t allow its investors to make the profits they were promised. 

But such agreements are essential to financing offshore wind projects because they lock in revenues for decades to come. Even though SouthCoast Wind is planning to rebid the contracts in a coming offshore wind solicitation announced in Massachusetts, there’s no guarantee the joint venture between Shell and Ocean Winds would be selected again over competing projects. And without any agreements, the 147-turbine wind farm won’t get built. 

The board reasoned that with so much uncertainty surrounding the financial viability of the wind farm, it would be premature to consider the merits of the proposal to bring the cable across Rhode Island lands and waters to a substation at the site of the former Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset. 

 So its members voted to wait and see how the new offshore wind solicitation pans out in Massachusetts. The board stayed its proceedings until Oct. 1, 2024, to give SouthCoast Wind time to secure new power purchase agreements. If the company is chosen again in the Massachusetts procurement, the permitting process would restart. 

But SouthCoast Wind, in its filing with the Supreme Court, says the board erred in its decision and that nothing in the state’s Energy Facility Siting Act requires a power purchase contract to be in place for an application to be considered. 

More:SouthCoast Wind denies allegations from state engineer about lying to regulators

The company says that the progress of the project is being demonstrated in other ways, including the $100 million it says it has budgeted for the wind farm proposal this year and in other permit applications. They include federal environmental permits, which are still under consideration, and a separate state permit for the transmission cable, from the Coastal Resources Management Council, that was submitted for consideration but is not yet complete. 

“The EFSB’s refusal to consider these indicators unless and until SouthCoast Wind is awarded a [power purchase agreement] is clearly erroneous,” the company said in the filing. 


Source:https://www.providencejournal…

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