Governor Carcieriâ€™s chief energy adviser, Andrew Dzykewicz, was dismissive of the New York company that is proposing to bring wind farms to Rhode Islandâ€™s coastal waters and said the state plans to continue with its own wind farm project so it can control the power output.
Dzykewicz said Carcieri hopes to have the state start its own permit application process by the end of the year. If the state resolves all of the permitting issues in a non-adversarial process, it could then sell the permit to a private company that would build and install the wind turbines.
As for the proposal reported in The Providence Journal yesterday by Allco Renewable Energy Group Ltd. to erect up to 338 turbines, Dzykewicz said he hasnâ€™t heard from the company and it hasnâ€™t returned his calls. He described its effort as a fishing expedition and said, â€śIâ€™m not sure how real this company is.â€ť
â€śYou donâ€™t sandbag the top energy official and the governor of a state where you want to do business,â€ť Dzykewicz said.
But late yesterday, Allco managing director Jim Wavle returned a call The Journal placed to the companyâ€™s New York offices on Thursday. Wavle said the companyâ€™s proposal was serious and it plans to be in Rhode Island for the long haul.
The company didnâ€™t immediately return calls because its lead person on the Rhode Island proposal, senior vice president Gordon D. Alter, has been out of the office, Wavle said. But Wavle said Alter should be available to discuss the proposal next week.
In September, Allco dropped off a brief outline of its plans and an $8,000 application fee at the offices of the Coastal Resources Management Council, the state agency that regulates coastal development.
Allco proposed erecting 235 to 338 wind turbines off Watch Hill, south of Block Island and south of Little Compton and Middletown.
It was asking CRMC for a â€śpreliminary determination,â€ť a listing of the information that CRMC would require in a formal application. CRMC, which has no regulations or plans governing wind farms, still has not responded. But the agency announced this week it would do a planning study of Rhode Island coastal waters so it can best determine where alternative energy devices should go.
Allco said it would assemble the turbines at Quonset Point. But David Preston, a spokesman for the state industrial park, said yesterday no one at Quonset has spoken to Allco. Quonset would be interested in hearing proposals though, he said.
Dzykewicz has been meeting with local â€śstakeholdersâ€ť and utilizing consultants to determine where the best offshore sites would be for a wind farm. So far they have identified 10 offshore and one on land, in Little Compton.
Carcieri wants to develop wind farms similar in scope to the Cape Wind proposal in Nantucket Sound. Dzykewicz said the wind farms could supply 18 percent of Rhode Islandâ€™s energy needs.
But the Cape Wind project has been stalled by five years of legal and political battles over the local, state and federal permits it needs. Dzykewicz said a plan is evolving in Rhode Island that would avoid much of that trouble.
â€śRather than select a site and ram it down peopleâ€™s throats, weâ€™re trying to keep everyone in the loop,â€ť Dzykewicz said. He said he met with Block Island residents last week and found that even people who didnâ€™t want to see a wind farm built nearby saw the need for it, particularly if Block Island could use the power to replace the power it generates at very high costs with diesel powered generators.
He said he is planning to have the state apply for a siting permit from CRMC and the Army Corps of Engineers. Once granted, he said such permits would be â€śincredibly profitableâ€ť to private companies that would bid for the right to build and operate the wind turbines.
â€śIf we can eliminate the siting risks, that makes it a much safer ballgame for companies,â€ť he said. â€śThere is absolutely no benefit in having the process being adversarial. We should work with people and accommodate their legitimate needs.â€ť
Wavle said Allco is fully aware of all the controversy surrounding Cape Wind and that is why it is not taking its proposal lightly. With climate change and growing â€śenergy security issues,â€ť he said more and more people agree it is time to utilize alternative energy sources such as wind.
By Peter B. Lord
Journal Environment Writer
17 November 2007
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