PROVIDENCE – The state will seek bids from private developers to build and operate an offshore wind farm designed to generate 1.3-million megawatt-hours per year just south of Block Island, under a plan announced this afternoon by Gov. Donald L. Carcieri.
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.
Carcieri characterized the state’s request for proposals (RFP) as an attempt to gauge interest in such a project from the private sector. The project would substantially lower the cost of electricity on Block Island, where the prices are among the highest in the country.
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.
State officials were caught off guard last fall when Allco Renewable Energy Group Limited LLC, a New York-based development and investment company, proposed erecting hundreds of wind turbines off Rhode Island’s coast.
Grover Fugate, executive director of the CRMC, has argued that a moratorium is needed to give the agency time to draft regulations for wind projects, which would ultimately speed the lengthy permitting process.
Carcieri has disagreed, saying a moratorium would send the wrong message to the development community. But he did say he likes other elements of the CRMC proposal, such as the idea of creating a special area-management plan to craft zoning regulations for state waters.
Which agency would lead the effort remained unclear, in light of the governor’s proposal last month to fold the CRMC into the R.I. Department of Environmental Management.
In addition, questions remaining to be answered include the cost of such a project; how soon it could get built; and whether a state power authority will be created.
By David Ortiz
PBN Staff Writer
3 April 2008
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding