Articles from Rhode Island
In an order issued Monday, the court directed the Conservation Law Foundation, Toray Plastics (America) and Polytop Corp. to file briefs defending their legal standing no later than March 10. The three are appealing a decision by the R.I. Public Utilities Commission to approve a contract between National Grid and wind farm developer Deepwater Wind.
The town Planning Commission Thursday night declined to rule on a revised application for a controversial wind turbine at Stamp Farm until it knows who the manufacturer will be.
Deepwater Wind's initial project will raise state and local governments' electric bills by a combined $1.5 million in its first year, according to documents reviewed by the Target 12 Investigators. Municipal electric bills will increase by a total of $1 million while state government's bill will rise by $476,630, according to an estimate commissioned by National Grid from Energy Security Analysis Inc. The cost would rise by 3.5 percent every year for the next two decades.
The Conservation Law Foundation and the industrial groups Toray Plastics and Polytop Corp. restate many of the arguments they made in their initial filings to the court. These are the last submissions before the Supreme Court schedules oral arguments, expected to take place in the spring. Also on Friday new state Attorney General Peter Kilmartin followed through on his pledge to end his office's role in the appeal.
Municipalities trying to determine appropriate sites for turbines must deal with issues related to noise, light flicker and setbacks from nearby properties, among others. The General Assembly asked the Division of Planning to draw up siting guidelines in 2007, a year after Portsmouth Abbey installed the first wind turbine in the state. Since then, four other large turbines have been put up - another in Portsmouth, one in Middletown and two in Warwick.
Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin has dropped the petition filed by his predecessor that asked the state Supreme Court to overturn a key approval for a wind farm planned in waters off Block Island. The move, which has been expected for months, does not end the case. Three other parties also appealed the decision in August.
The Portsmouth turbine could not be set up behind an electric meter because of the layout of power lines and other equipment at the high school site. The turbine was instead installed directly into National Grid's distribution system. None of the power is used at the high school. Instead, all of it is sold to National Grid.
The turbine had been working fine after recent repairs but shut down abruptly on Sunday, Jan. 23, at 4 a.m. when a power outage hit that part of Portsmouth. After the power goes out, the turbine must be re-started manually, Assistant Town Planner Gary Crosby said, and that needs to happen within about three hours or the batteries will drain.
On Jan. 10, the Town Council passed a six-month moratorium on new wind turbines to allow time for North Kingstown to create a new wind-energy ordinance. The move came after two proposals for large turbines stirred vigorous opposition in town. Town Manager Michael Embury said local officials were meeting to discuss the ordinance when they decided it made more sense to wait for uniform standards for wind turbines.
The construction of Deepwater Wind's Block Island offshore project later than planned as a result of a court challenge to its PPA with National Grid. The court case centres on the Rhode Island attorney general's decision in August to request the Supreme Court abolish the project's power purchase agreement with National Grid.
The opponents of a controversial proposal for two tall wind turbines, poking from the tree line near Route 295, were prepared to criticize the project Thursday night. But the Zoning Board of Review voted to wait at least 90 days to resume the public hearing on the proposal, citing the need to gather more information.
Previously the company has said it wants wind turbines spinning by the end of 2012 when federal tax credits worth millions of dollars are set to expire. The farm, with six to eight turbines, would sit about three miles off the coast of Block Island.
Windsor said that she suggested a moratorium earlier in the month to allow the Planning Commission time to adequately address the issue. Ultimately, the Council agreed that the commission needs to move as quickly as possible to address the issue as part of the Jamestown Comprehensive Community Plan.
The briefs, submitted on behalf of the developer and the utility, as well as Speaker of the House Gordon Fox, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed, and the governor's office, are a response to legal challenges mounted by former Attorney General Patrick Lynch, the Conservation Law Foundation and industrial concerns Toray Plastics and Polytop Corp. Those groups alleged a number of legal and constitutional transgressions in the process that led to the wind farm contract approval.
Two years ago, in an effort to promote wind energy, the legislature changed the law on "net metering'' - a practice that allows the owners of wind turbines to sell any power they don't use back to National Grid. It seemed to make sense ...but, as Jim Hummel finds, the change in law opened up a loophole that is now the subject of an investigation by the Public Utilities Commission. http://www.windaction.org/videos/30928
"Wind energy was a hot topic last year as developers proposed an offshore project know as Deepwater Wind. Well this year the focus shifts here to the mainland as many local communities are dealing with the pros and cons of having turbines in their own backyards. This week the focus - and ground zero - is North Kingstown. (See video at link)
The Town Council unanimously passed a six-month moratorium on any new wind turbine proposals Monday night. The measure will not apply to two 427-foot turbines already proposed by Wind Energy Development LLC.
In one of his last acts as the state's top law enforcement officer, outgoing attorney General Patrick Lynch asked a host of state organizations to join him in challenging the law that led to the Block Island wind farm approval. Though he officially left office Friday, Lynch has pledged to continue his effort as a private citizen.
The case being pursued by the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers could have far-reaching implications for clean energy in Rhode Island. Portsmouth could be asked to accept a lower price for its electricity. And for other municipalities that are trying to follow that town's lead it could mean that investing in green power will not be as financially attractive as once thought.
The proposed moratorium would not apply to the controversial proposal to build a 427-foot wind turbine at Stamp Farm, on Route 2. That application, now before the North Kingstown Planning Commission, was submitted under the wind energy ordinance passed by the council on Sept. 27.