Library filed under General from Rhode Island
Rhode Island has granted a New Jersey-based renewable energy firm the right to develop a wind farm miles off the coast that would generate 15 percent of the state's electricity needs in the coming decade, officials said. DeepwaterWind LLC estimates the project, being formally announced Thursday, will cost $1 billion to $2 billion and benefit New England, which pays some of the most expensive electricity bills in the nation because it is heavily dependent on natural gas. ...DeepwaterWind CEO Chris Brown said his firm builds turbines on large platforms originally designed for offshore drilling rigs, which means they can operate in deep waters and ideally out of sight of land.
Mapping of the ocean area that could contain Rhode Island's first offshore wind farm is kicking into high gear. The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) and the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography are preparing to formally sign a partnership to produce an Ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) for a swath of ocean 20 to 30 miles wide stretching along the entire Rhode Island Atlantic coastline. Depending on the team's findings, a wind farm visible from Block Island shores could become a reality. And along with it could come a much-talked about, but never realized, power cable to the mainland.
Rhode Island's top energy official said yesterday that proposed federal rules for leasing offshore ocean space to wind-farm operators will not conflict with the state's own plan to select a developer to build a wind project off the coast. Andrew Dzykewicz, chief energy adviser to the governor, said the rules are "unlikely to interfere" with the state's plans. But he said the state's Office of Energy Resources plans to file its own comments about the rules to make sure there won't be any potential conflict.
The five-member group appointed by the governor in June has been giving the seven bids a "very thorough look" according to member David Farmer, who added that outside experts are being consulted. Fellow group member Saul Kaplan said he expected the group to finish its work by the end of the year. The wind farm proposal could have implications for Block Island - not only because it suggests locations close to the island - but because it also "strongly encourages" the winner of the bid to tie the system into Block Island.
The state's suspension of a rebate program for small wind turbine projects has led Mashpee Commons to rethink its proposal to mount two turbines to the roof of the Talbots' building in the middle of the commercial and residential development. Douglas S. Storrs, a vice president of both Mashpee Commons LP another related development firm, said this week that in light of the suspension the developers are now investigating using the two small turbines, purchased nearly a year ago, at other properties in Rhode Island.
Five companies submitted proposals for a wind turbine yesterday, but only two made bids for what the town was asking for. Only one of the two came in under the $2.4-million limit set by the Town Council. The proposals now go to the Committee for Renewable Energy for Barrington, which is expected to make its recommendation to the council next month. Meanwhile, the committee released a 40-page report suggesting that the project should not pose any serious health and safety risks if the turbine is built at town-owned property at the end of Legion Way, already the favored site.
The Committee for Renewable Energy in Barrington (CREB) met on Tuesday, Aug. 5 and scheduled three outreach meetings for residents concerned with the proposed wind turbine project. Legion Way and Barrington High School have been picked as potential locations for the wind turbine ...CREB has scheduled the outreach meetings - Aug. 20 and 27 and Sept. 10 - for anyone who has concerns with the wind turbine project or who wants to learn more.
Town officials received some good news on Tuesday, Aug. 5 - the Internal Revenue Service's interest-free loan for the town's proposed wind turbine project is still accessible even if the turbine is moved to a different site. Initial research indicated that the proposed wind turbine would be best suited for a spot on the Barrington High School campus, primarily because the school is the largest consumer of electricity among all municipal buildings and because state legislation limited the transfer of electricity generated in one location to another spot. Recently-approved legislation voided that restriction and town officials have since selected a new site - Legion Way near Brickyard Pond - as their top location for the proposed tower.
Mr. Baum said there is a lot of information circulating about wind turbines and wants to make sure his board's website becomes a definitive source for reliable details. He wants people to get an accurate picture of the project. "We don't want misinformation hurting this," he said. Wind turbine talk started more than a year ago in Barrington. Officials studied the potential for a wind turbine in town and were encouraged when their application for a $2.1 million no interest loan from the IRS was approved.
Perhaps the most unlikely company hoping to build Rhode Island's wind farm is Fishermen's Energy of Rhode Island. The company, founded in New Jersey, was started by commercial fishermen, who have traditionally fought offshore wind projects. ...Fishermen have been wary of the growing interest in offshore wind projects because they fear the construction and operation of the wind turbines will further erode the industry. ...Daniel Cohen, president of Fishermen's Energy, said wind farms will hurt the commercial fishing industry, simply because the turbine towers, placed only about one-half mile apart, will interfere with trawling -- the practice of dragging a huge net behind a boat to catch fish. "There will be a reduction in mobility, no matter what happens," he said.
The companies vying to win a state contract to construct and operate a huge offshore wind farm are not the ones that typically bid on Rhode Island state contracts. They are Allco Renewable Energy Group Limited LLC, New York, N.Y.; Bluewater Wind LLC, Providence; Deep Water Wind Rhode Island LLC, Hoboken, N.J.; DKRW Wind LLC, Houston; Fishermen's Energy of Rhode Island, Bristol; Great Eastern Wind LLC, Providence; and WindPowerpro.us, Woodbridge, N.J. ... But many are so new that they don't even show up in Internet searches. Few have local ties, and some are located as far away as Ireland and Australia.
I would not worry about a wind farm off of Block Island any time soon. The technology and cost of placing offshore wind turbines in deep (more than 75 feet) and unprotected (exposed to ocean swells) waters simply does not exist. Real wind developers, like Cape Wind Associates, know this and have not responded to Gov. Donald Carcieri's request for proposals. ...Why would a state publish an RFP for a project that is not possible even with the state-of-the-art for this technology? Great question! Wind energy is sexy ... and seductive ... and this clouds people's minds and makes politicians offer it as solution that is not economically feasible and investors (who, if they did their homework, should know better) pour money into companies.
In an overwhelming vote, but not without some passionate objection, residents at the Financial Town Meeting last night approved a plan to build a $2.4 million wind turbine, probably at the high school. It took nearly an hour of debate for the proposal to pass, and the OK came only after the voters rejected an amendment that would have banned a windmill from the high school, but permit it anywhere else in town. ... Nearly all of last night's debate was over the turbine, whose blade tips will sweep 328 feet into the air if it is built at the high school. Supporters of the project have argued that the unit would save millions of dollars in energy costs over the 20-year life of the device. Critics expressed their fears over safety and noise, saying there were better sites in town with more wind. ..."I was really scared about what it would be like to sit on my deck and listen to the windmill," said Cynthia Thomsen, of 28 Upland Way. After visiting the turbine at Portsmouth Abbey, she said, she was still opposed to having it at the high school. "It is disturbing noise if it is 24 hours a day," she said. "I believe my quality of life would be impacted in a negative way.
Rhode Island's plan to generate 15 percent of its energy from wind power has until recently enjoyed a wide swath of public support. In fact, for proponents, it has been a breeze. That could change if the message purported by the newly-formed Alliance for Clean Energy resonates. ...Saying that offshore wind turbines represent a threat to the state's environment, economy and health, the fledgling alliance is aiming to raise $5 million and build a coalition of supporters from Westerly to Block Island to oppose the estimated $2 billion alternative energy plan championed by Republican Governor Donald Carcieri.
A group of Aquidneck Island residents has assembled the first organized opposition to Governor Carcieri's plan to develop a large-scale wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island. The group's name -- the Rhode Island Alliance for Clean Energy -- might be mistaken for an organization that supports wind farms. And its leader -- Anthony G. Spiratos -- is a young Newport real-estate developer who was once a Carcieri supporter and campaign donor. "The key word is ‘was,' " Spiratos said in an interview. He no longer supports Carcieri, he said. ...The flaws, as the alliance sees it, are listed on the group's Web site at www.saveourstateri.org.
After hearing that the proposed site of a town wind turbine has been shifted away from classrooms at the high school, the School Committee last night unanimously endorsed the plan. It now goes to the May 28 Financial Town Meeting, where voters will have to decide whether to finance the $2.4-million project with the help of a $2.1-million no-interest federal loan. The committee's approval didn't come without reservations. No wind measurements have been taken at the site, and committee member Jim Hasenfus warned that Barrington is a "marginal wind area."
Gov. Carcieri's call for bids to develop a wind farm near Block Island, due in five weeks, came as a surprise to islanders, and apparently to most of Rhode Island and even, perhaps, the governor's administration. That's a little disturbing. Is this a bold attempt to speed progress toward the governor's alternative energy goal, or a lurch into unknown quicksand? Does the state intend to lay the legal and scientific foundation for a huge enterprise, or is it trusting corporations to do the right thing? ...One hopes the governor's abrupt call for bids does not foretell a willingness to bypass the scientific studies and plunge ahead. In the push for action, we must make sure it is the right action.
Several states already have done what Rhode Island is now doing in making state waters available to private developers, including Texas, which recently put out a land-lease tender so developers could secure sites off the coast, and New Jersey, which recently released a tender that received a few bids for offshore projects. But in a handful of cases around the country, offshore wind farms are being second-guessed or cancelled entirely because of concern that they won't be profitable, Kaplan said. "In most cases, it comes down to the fact that offshore wind energy is more expensive than land-based projects," he said. ...Several states already have done what Rhode Island is now doing in making state waters available to private developers, including Texas, which recently put out a land-lease tender so developers could secure sites off the coast, and New Jersey, which recently released a tender that received a few bids for offshore projects. But in a handful of cases around the country, offshore wind farms are being second-guessed or cancelled entirely because of concern that they won't be profitable, Kaplan said.
The federal government has rejected a proposal to install a wind turbine at a high school in Portsmouth. The Federal Aviation Administration says the 213-foot-tall wind turbine proposed for Portsmouth High School would be too high. The FAA says the plan needs to be modified. The agency had earlier rejected a proposed turbine at Portsmouth Middle School. ...Voters last fall approved a $3 million bond to build a wind turbine at either the middle school or high school.
Allco Renewable Energy Group is interested in erecting test towers at four sites to determine whether the amount, consistency and direction of winds is enough for one or more wind farms comprised of 250 to 350 turbines each. One of the four sites, all in waters governed by the state, is off Napatree Point near the Watch Hill section of Westerly, while another is off the south shore of Block Island. The other two are off Little Compton, in the eastern part of the state. Allco announced its interest this fall, following initiatives by the administration of Gov. Donald Carcieri to foster the development of wind power projects that could produce up to 15 percent of the state's energy needs.