Articles filed under Energy Policy from Rhode Island
A state Senate committee has again postponed voting on legislation that would benefit an offshore wind developer as the panel awaits amendments to the controversial bill. The Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture was set to vote Thursday on legislation that would allow Deepwater Wind LLC to enter into an agreement for the sale of electricity from its proposed eight-turbine wind farm near Block Island without first getting approval from the state Public Utilities Commission. It is the second delay for a decision on the bill after the cancellation of a vote Tuesday. No new date has been scheduled.
A Senate committee has called off a hearing originally scheduled for Thursday when it was expected the panel would vote on a bill that could kickstart development of a proposed offshore wind farm. "The bill just isn't ready," Senate Environment and Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski, D-South Kingstown, told Providence Business News.
Supporters and opponents of a new Senate bill (S2819) that would resurrect the Block Island wind farm turned out Wednesday night to voice their opinions at a hearing in Providence of the Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture. Block Island residents and members of the Town Council were among those testifying.
The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission made a unanimous decision to deny the contract between Deepwater Wind and National Grid for the Block Island wind-farm project because it costs too much. Under the proposal, all Rhode Island electricity ratepayers would have been required to pay up to $400 million in over-market costs during the next 20-year life of the contract, in a windfall deal that promised Deepwater investors a 98 percent return. And, the cost of the cable from the wind farm to the mainland was excluded!
Gov. Donald L. Carcieri appeared before a Senate committee on Wednesday to support legislation that could jump-start an offshore wind farm project, the same day the attorney general came out against the bill. The bill would essentially circumvent the R.I. Public Utilities Commission.
Governor Carcieri went before a Senate committee on Wednesday to urge passage of first-of-a-kind legislation that would allow a private energy company to bypass a key regulatory board in a quest to build a wind farm in waters off Block Island. ...Speaking at a candidates debate at a state business forum in the morning, Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch, a Democrat, said that allowing one company to avoid the PUC would set a bad precedent.
The Block Island wind farm may have new life after Sen. Susan Sosnowski introduced a bill late Wednesday that would give four governor-appointed agency heads the power to approve a contract reached between Deepwater Wind and National Grid. A duplicate House bill is expected to appear soon.
State lawmakers are attempting to breathe new life into a stalled proposal for an eight-turbine wind farm in waters off Block Island through legislation that would allow the project to bypass a difficult regulatory hurdle. A bill filed late Wednesday would make it possible for developer Deepwater Wind and National Grid, the state's main electric utility, to enter into a power-purchase agreement without having to win approval from the state Public Utilities Commission.
Rhode Island environmental advocates are decrying a proposal in the General Assembly to strip $1 million from the state Renewable Energy Fund to help fill the state budget deficit. ...a provision is still on the table to reallocate money from the ratepayer-supported fund that finances the installation of wind turbines, solar arrays and other renewable-energy systems throughout Rhode Island. The proposal would reduce the fund by 40 percent.
Saying that for too long the Atlantic states, including Rhode Island, have toiled separately in developing offshore wind energy, Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar gathered the governors of those states Friday in Washington, D.C., and pledged to form a consortium to speed development of wind energy.
The issue is whether the price that National Grid, the mainland distributor of electricity, has agreed to pay Deepwater Wind for the power generated by eight turbines southeast of the island is "commercially reasonable." Reasonable, that is, for electricity customers in the rest of Rhode Island. That issue will come to a head at hearings in March. ...It all depends on two negotiations, not yet begun.
The Republican governor is scheduled to address a two-day workshop held in Boston next week by the American Wind Energy Association, a national trade group of wind developers, suppliers, researchers and others. He will be joined by Delaware Gov. Jack Markell and ISO New England President Gordon van Welie.
I noticed the other week that Deepwater Wind is looking to renegotiate its contract to supply power from its proposed phase one offshore-wind project. As a veteran developer of wind projects and one who worked on an alternative bid to the Deepwater project, all I want to say is I told you so.
In the wake of last week's National Grid filing with the state Public Utilities Commission, Deepwater Wind executives are hoping for more time at the bargaining table. Last Thursday National Grid recommended the PUC to turn down a power purchase agreement (PPA) proposed by Deepwater for an eight-turbine wind farm within three miles of Block Island. According to National Grid, Deepwater was asking 30.7 cents per kilowatt-hour for its electricity, when the average cost for wholesale electricity is about 9 cents. It called the proposal "commercially unreasonable."
National Grid is willing to return to the negotiating table with offshore wind farm developer Deepwater Wind, the state's largest utility said in a filing with the R.I. Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The Wednesday filing, actually a copy of a letter sent to Deepwater, came six days after National Grid rejected the developer's renewable energy contract offer, saying that electricity from Deepwater's proposed offshore wind farm would be too expensive.
A storm is gathering over the ocean. Thursday, more than 200 people attended a public hearing in Providence on ocean policy. Almost all who testified praised the interim report of the President Barack Obama's Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, but their recommendations for regulation of the United States coastline varied widely. ...Perhaps the interim report's most far-reaching recommendation is for an "ecosystem based approach." Martha's Vineyard selectman Warren Doty noted that approach was not in evidence at a recent meeting of the National Marine Fisheries Council.
Rhode Island's congressional delegation met with Governor Carcieri and other officials on Friday for a briefing on the progress of two wind farms being proposed in state coastal waters. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed and Representatives Patrick J. Kennedy and James R. Langevin were at the closed-door meeting at the State House to discuss regulatory issues surrounding the proposals.
CHARLESTOWN - State geologist Jon Boothroyd warned that houses are raised on pilings along the South County beaches to avoid storm waves, but state and local officials use standards so old they do not account for 1 foot of sea level rise. If another hurricane like the one in 1938 hits, he said, his data shows the storm surge would roll right over the dunes and take out most of the houses along the beach.
Last week, the New England Governors' Conference raised green fantasy to new heights with the release of its Renewable Energy Blueprint, which said the region "has a significant quantity of untapped renewable resources, on the order of over 10,000 MW combined of on-shore and off-shore wind power potential." Neither the report nor the news articles about it bothered to do the math. At 7 MW, New England would need 1,429 E-126s to tap that potential. Though the turbines likely would be clustered in "farms," that's an average of 238 per state, or more than one for each town in Connecticut. The cost would be $221 billion that the states don't have, though they might get a bulk-purchase discount of a billion or two.
With plans moving forward in New Jersey and Delaware - not to mention recent progress in Cape Wind's years-long fight in Massachusetts - it's far from certain that Deepwater and Rhode Island will succeed in their quest to be first. And make no mistake, being first is important. For the developer, it means more than just bragging rights. It gives the company a leg up on its competitors as it tries to develop additional wind farms elsewhere. For the state, it means much-needed economic development and valuable green-collar jobs.