Articles filed under Energy Policy from Rhode Island
The [New England] region's power system has had a long history of dependability, but electricity costs have been an issue for businesses and residents for decades. As the region plans ahead, New England's policymakers face a series of decisions that will have an abiding impact on our energy future. ...Economic, reliability and environmental goals are not always perfectly aligned when it comes to electricity generation and transmission. Whatever path policymakers choose to take will require trade-offs. How New England officials balance these sometimes conflicting goals will demonstrate our priorities, impact the regional economy and determine which objectives we can realistically achieve.
Wind farm developers, show us your plans. That's the message Governor Carcieri sent yesterday to private developers who may be interested in building a massive offshore wind farm that would generate at least 15 percent of the electricity consumed throughout Rhode Island -- about 1.3 million megawatts of power a year. At a State House news conference yesterday afternoon, Carcieri announced that the state has begun a formal request for proposals process, in which it seeks a partner in the private sector who would construct, finance and operate the wind farm.
Such a project would require an estimated 105 wind turbines, making it about the size of the proposed Cape Wind project off Cape Cod. The proposal would meet Carcieri's goal of securing 15 percent of the state's energy needs through clean-energy sources. But questions remained after his 1 p.m. news conference about the cost of the project and its time-frame. ...The governor's plan appears at odds with a proposal by the staff of the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council - the state agency charged with permitting projects in state waters - for a one-year moratorium on development proposals.
It will take $6.6 million and three years to develop a permitting process for offshore wind and wave farms, said scientists from the University of Rhode Island in a presentation to state coastal officials March 11. The presentation was part of Coastal Resources Management Council's effort to establish rules for renewable energy projects in state waters. The council is pairing with URI in the process. All offshore projects have been put on hold until the new rules are in place. Although meteorological towers to collect data will be allowed before the process is complete, under the suggested framework it will still be another year until the state allows them to be placed offshore.
The fate of a handful of energy bills lawmakers are debating at the State House will shape Rhode Island's energy future, determining what technologies get built, how much it will cost the state's ratepayers and, to a great extent, who gets to decide. ...The bill that would potentially have the biggest impact would require National Grid to enter into long-term contracts to buy renewable energy from developers of large-scale clean-energy projects. ...Perhaps most crucially, the bill would give National Grid discretion to decide what renewable- energy sources are "commercially reasonable" - essentially handing over to the utility the power to set policy about which forms of renewable energy go forward in Rhode Island, Dzykewicz said. Carcieri hopes to rework language in the bill to address those concerns.
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.
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.
Senate leaders banded for the second time in a week to unveil bipartisan legislation, this time aimed at increasing the development and use of renewable energy throughout the state. ...the bill could fix a problem holding back green energy projects here: a lack of big buyers. Before building an offshore wind farm, for example, developers must convince potential investors that a major customer with money will buy the power over a long period. Lawmakers want National Grid, the state's dominant electricity distributor, to fill the role. The company supports the bill. ...The bill would excuse National Grid from signing contracts it considers "commercially unreasonable," a term that lawmakers defined only vaguely. Ryan said he could not say what contracts National Grid might reject without seeing a specific developer proposal.
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."
...Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri's pledge nearly two years ago to bring wind power to a state where there is just one operating wind turbine. His goal was to get 15% of the state's electrical power from wind by 2011 - which would require about 100 turbines. Several major challenges now stand in the way of the small state's big plans. Among them: No one has decided where to put a wind farm, it's not clear how the project will be paid for, and public opposition - a major wild card - is unknown, according to Carcieri's top energy adviser, Andrew Dzykewicz. ...No other state has built an offshore wind farm, forcing Rhode Island's government to invent the process nearly from scratch. One of the state's main environmental regulatory bodies, the Coastal Resources Management Council, has not even decided what it requires from prospective wind power developers.
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.
While paper mills close and Cabletron spins off its remnants out of state, power plants from the Seacoast to Whitefield enjoy the perks of a poorly understood, $100-million subsidy program just for energy producers. It has a bureaucratic name: the forward capacity market. ...An unidentified 600-megawatt, gas-fired power plant project somewhere in Rockingham County is blocked behind half a dozen North Country renewable energy projects in the ISO-New England regulatory queue. The waiting list policy is first-come, first-served. A plant like that would typically pay its host community $4 million or more in property taxes, with few smokestack emissions. But those wind- and wood-fired projects at the front of the line are all in limbo. The Public Service power lines in the region are too small. Most of the players can't even bid into the upcoming ISO auction, because yet-to-be-built plants have to ante millions of dollars as a sort of performance bond. And the ISO doesn't make forward capacity payments for transmission line upgrades.
Legislators in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic passed a number of bills applying to the electric power industry, with several states committing to emissions reductions through the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and other states making broad organizational changes to their regulatory processes.
Governor Carcieri's wind-power initiative suffered a significant setback Friday when the General Assembly failed to pass a bill that the governor said was needed to support the project. The legislation would have created the Rhode Island Power Authority, a quasi-public agency that would have had the authority to issue bonds to finance renewable energy projects, such as the proposal by the governor to establish one or more wind farms capable of generating 15 percent of Rhode Island's electricity usage. The project, comparable in scope to the proposed Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, could cost $900 million to $1.9 billion to build, depending on where the turbines would be located, how many were erected and several other variables. Without the power authority legislation, the wind-energy project is essentially on hold, said Andrew Dzykewicz, the commissioner of the state Office of Energy Resources.
Legislation submitted to the R.I. General Assembly by Gov. Donald L. Carcieri would create a R.I. Power Authority to spearhead the development of renewable energy sources and ensure that Rhode Islanders are the primary beneficiaries of whatever electricity is produced. The bill, sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Dennis Algiere, R-Westerly, and co-sponsored by Senate President Joseph A. Montalbano, D-North Providence, is to be heard tomorrow (Thursday, May 3) by the Senate Corporations Committee.
NARRAGANSETT, R.I. - Gov. Don Carcieri's administration this week unveiled a report calling it feasible to build wind farms off the coast of Rhode Island as part of a plan to get 15 percent of the state's energy from wind in five years. Wind is plentiful in pockets along Narragansett Bay, and wind farms could supply much-needed energy to the Ocean State. But in a region where other wind projects have met with opposition, and in a state that prizes its shoreline, there's a lingering question over whether residents will support such a project. "Is aesthetics going to be a problem for people? That's the question. That's really the only question," said Andrew Dzykewicz, commissioner of the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources.