Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Rhode Island
A New York-based investment firm that caught state officials off guard last fall with a proposal to build up to 338 wind turbines in Rhode Island waters now says it wants to pay for a meteorological tower needed to draft zoning regulations for development of a wind farm. The proposal was made public last week at a hearing during which R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council - the state agency that regulates Rhode Island's waters voted unanimously to put off a decision about placing a one-year moratorium on all offshore alternative energy projects, something the agency's staff proposed following the New York firm's surprise wind-farm application. ...Gov. Donald L. Carcieri's ambitious goal to produce a minimum of 15 percent of Rhode Island's energy needs through the development of wind-, wave- and solar-energy sources by 2011 is almost certainly not going to happen.
In an effort to create ground rules as well as to determine what state waters would best serve potential wind farms, the Coastal Resources Management Council will vote next week on a proposed year-long moratorium on alternative energy projects in state waters. The move would place a "one-year moratorium on all renewable energy proposals in the state's territorial waters pending the development of an ocean special area management plan, or SAMP," reads the agency's notice on its website. According to CRMC spokeswoman Laura Ricketson-Dwyer, coastal is acting because "there is no specific section of our Redbook [regulation manual] that addresses wind farms."
State and regional regulators acknowledge the hurdles - especially in northern New Hampshire - but don't have ready solutions. A bill before the New Hampshire Senate would have the state be ready to act if no regional solution is forthcoming. ISO New England, which manages power for the region, is considering changing rules so more of the costs of transmission upgrades could be shared regionally. But as things stand now, backers of projects generally must pay for upgrades needed to connect them to the system. "None of this is a real speedy process," acknowledges Michael Harrington, senior regional policy adviser for the state Public Utilities Commission.
Two of Rhode Island's most active environmental groups have come out against a proposal by the staff of the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council to put a one-year moratorium on applications from developers to build wind- and wave-energy projects in state waters. Grover Fugate, the CRMC's executive director, has said implementing a moratorium would enable the state agency responsible for regulating Rhode Island's waters and coastline to avoid the risk of costly, drawn-out political battles over wind farm proposals - similar to the decade-old effort by developer Cape Wind Associates to build a wind farm in Massachusetts' Nantucket Sound - while drafting zoning regulations for offshore energy projects here.
The agency that regulates Rhode Island's coastline has proposed a one-year moratorium on wind farms and wave generators in the state's coastal waters so it can develop a special management plan that will determine where such projects will be allowed. Governor Carcieri and two environmental groups are opposing the moratorium. Yesterday, Jeff Neal, Carcieri's spokesman, said he's concerned the decision will slow the state's progress toward developing renewable energy sources. A moratorium, he said, would also send the wrong signal and might scare off potential proposals. "Governor Carcieri wants to remain out front developing wind and wave energy sources," Neal said. "He doesn't believe a moratorium will be helpful."
The R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council wants to place a one-year moratorium on all renewable-energy proposals in state waters, during which the agency will determine suitable locations for offshore wind farms and draft regulations for the projects. The proposal pits the agency responsible for regulating Rhode Island's waters against Gov. Donald L. Carcieri, who believes the moratorium would unnecessarily delay the development of renewable-energy sources in the state. ..."Our concern was, all it takes when you are in the process of doing this is one stupid application to pop its head up that goes in an area where it just doesn't make sense to have this," Fugate told Providence Business News. "And then when the next one comes along people say, ‘That's ridiculous, we don't need this in this state!' You can literally kill an industry on a couple of stupid applications."
Two top executives of Allco Renewable Energy Group Limited - Thomas Melone, president, and Gordon Alter, senior vice president - met with state energy coordinator Andrew Dzykewicz last week to try to answer concerns Dzykewicz raised when the company's plans to install 235 to 338 wind turbines became public two weeks ago. Both sides said the meeting was cordial, but they don't appear to agree on how Rhode Island should develop its potential coastal wind energy.
Allco Renewable Energy Group made official its plans to develop up to four offshore wind projects in Rhode Island at sites including two south of Little Compton. Although it filed preliminary applications with the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council on Nov. 21, the firm did not publicly announce its intentions until Monday, Nov. 26. ...Four of the permit applications submitted to the CRMC request permission to place meteorological masts in four of the offshore districts identified in the governor's wind siting study. The masts would analyze winds strengths for at least a year and a half before. The other four permit applications submitted relate to the actual building of wind projects in each of those areas.
In a release, Allco Renewable, a New York based renewable energy investment firm, said it submitted eight preliminary permit applications to the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) on September 21. The company proposed to install up to 338 wind turbines at the four sites - one south of Block Island, two south of Little Compton in Rhode Island Sound and one east of Fishers Island. ...If all goes well, Wavle said construction could start in the first quarter of 2009 with commercial operation a year later at a cost of $1 billion to $2 billion.
Governor Carcieri’s chief energy adviser, Andrew Dzykewicz, was dismissive of the New York company that is proposing to bring wind farms to Rhode Island’s coastal waters and said the state plans to continue with its own wind farm project so it can control the power output. ...“You don’t sandbag the top energy official and the governor of a state where you want to do business,” Dzykewicz said. But late yesterday, Allco managing director Jim Wavle returned a call The Journal placed to the company’s New York offices on Thursday. Wavle said the company’s proposal was serious and it plans to be in Rhode Island for the long haul.
Voters are being asked to approve $3 million up front to build the tower. Most of the money - $2.6 million - would be interest-free, coming from federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds. ...According to estimates prepared by the town's finance director, David P. Faucher, the turbine would initially cost 8 cents on the tax rate, but Faucher's analysis does not take into account income or savings resulting from the energy produced by the wind tower. The EDC's feasibility study calculated that a 1.5 megawatt turbine would more than pay for itself throughout a minimum 20-year life of the equipment.
The town may ask Block Island residents to fund a paid energy advisor who could help organize an effort to bring the island's energy future under its own control, including, as a first step, polling community sentiment about erecting huge wind turbines.
The Portsmouth Economic Development Committee sent out about 1,000 surveys last weekend seeking public input on plans for the local construction of wind turbines. About half the surveys were sent by random selection and the rest were sent to residents with property adjacent to Portsmouth Middle School or Portsmouth High School.
Central Maine Power and Maine Public Service have asked the ISO New England to review the feasibility of a transmission line that would link northern Maine with the regional grid and create a path for wind power to flow to load centers in southern New England. Tim Brown, MPS director of corporate planning and regulatory affairs, said Thursday that the line, expected to be in excess of 100 miles, would allow transmission of more than 500 MW of wind power, most of it still in planning. While the idea of connecting northern Maine to the regional grid has been discussed for years, it has taken on a new significance given the difficulty utilities and merchant generators have encountered when they've attempted to build plants in the high-demand southern New England states. In addition to growing demand, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have renewable portfolio standards, which create pressure for more large scale wind. But no major projects have been built in southern New England. In northern Maine, about 42 MW of wind is operating and an additional 500 MW has been proposed. If the line is not built, Brown said wind electricity in northern Maine could be routed into Canada then into southern New England. That, however, would require major upgrades to grid interface between MPS and New Brunswick Power. Brown said the utilities expect the ISO impact study to be completed by the end of 2007.
The Wind Energy Committee voted last week to ask the Town Council for $50,000 for a wind energy feasibility study. The committee also voted to recommend that the town begin the process with an invitation for suppliers to submit proposals for the study.
PORTSMOUTH - Preliminary analyses by the town's Sustainable Energy Subcommittee report that Portsmouth would not only save money in utility costs by installing a wind turbine at the middle or high school but wind energy would also generate revenue through the sale of excess power back to the utility company. In public workshops last week, the committee estimated that one 600kW turbine would produce $30,000 per year in revenue after generating a school's electricity and minus the cost of purchasing, installing and maintaining the turbine. Once the bond is paid off, the revenue a single turbine could generate, at 2007 energy prices, would rise to $150,000 per year or about $1.6 million over 20 years. The committee is studying whether wind energy would be cost-effective for the town. Its focus is to determine whether to purchase two 600kW turbines, one each at the middle and high schools, or one 1.5MW turbine. The committee chose to study if wind energy could reduce the schools' electric costs since, collectively, they consume 62 percent of municipal energy use.
Technical, environmental and financial considerations were focuses of presentations by consultants at the June 12 meeting of the Wind Energy Committee. The committee listened to expert advice on proceeding with a feasibility study to bring the renewable energy source to Jamestown.
Can Barrington handle a wind turbine? According to Richard Asinof, chairman of the Barrington Wind Power Exploratory Committee, the answer is a confident yes - "the committee reached a clear consensus," he said. The committee members proceeded to prove their point through an hour-long presentation to the Barrington Town Council on Monday night that culminated several months of research. Their findings were that Barrington could sustain a turbine at five locations in town - Barrington High School, Barrington Middle School, the Legion Way pump station, the DPW building and town hall - at a start-up cost ranging from $1.2 million to $1.4 million. Depending on the site, a turbine could produce a simple payback of those costs in 11 to 13 years, according to the committee's data. The more important question, however, is if the town council wants one.
A New Hampshire company wants to introduce a new era of wind technology to the United States and it wants to showcase that technology here in West Warwick. Representatives from Portsmouth Power Corporation made a presentation to the town council and town residents last night to introduce the principles of the project. The company would like to build three module power towers on Arctic Hill. The company is proposing putting one tower near the tennis courts and two towers at the rear of the baseball field behind the high school. The company would donate the tower closest to the school to the town and would own the other two.
A 13-square-mile tract of ocean one to three miles off the south shore of Block Island is a prime candidate as a site for a 56-turbine wind farm, a state study concludes. Other candidates include ocean areas east and west of the Block Island ferry navigation channel not far from the mainland shore.