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Kilmartin drops appeal over proposed offshore wind farm

PROVIDENCE – Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin has dropped the petition filed by his predecessor that asked the state Supreme Court to overturn a key approval for a wind farm planned in waters off Block Island.

The move, which has been expected for months, does not end the case. Three other parties also appealed the decision in August by the state Public Utilities Commission to approve a power-purchase agreement between developer Deepwater Wind and National Grid, Rhode Island’s dominant electric utility.

In a brief memorandum filed with the court on Friday, Kilmartin said he “does not desire to pursue this matter or maintain this Petition.” His office could not be reached for further comment. Deepwater declined comment.

As a state representative, last year, Kilmartin voted for legislation Deepwater needed after the PUC turned down its first long-term contract with National Grid.

And during his campaign for office, he voiced support for Deepwater’s plans, which include building a demonstration wind farm with five to eight turbines within three miles of Block Island and following that with a project of up to 200 turbines farther northeast. He said at the time that the project is part of “a long-term solution to energy costs and the rise in gas and fuel costs.”

The day after winning election in November, Kilmartin said he would end the appeal filed by then-Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch.

Lynch’s office was joined in the case by the Conservation Law Foundation, a regional environmental advocacy group, and two manufacturers with facilities in Rhode Island, Polytop Corp. and Toray Plastics.

Lynch’s office, as well as Polytop and Toray, objected to the high price of offshore wind power in the contract. Although the Conservation Law Foundation supports renewable energy, it filed an appeal because it opposed the statute that allowed National Grid and Deepwater to negotiate a deal, saying it amounted to special-interest legislation.

The three remaining petitioners are continuing with the case and filed briefs earlier this week. A hearing date has not been set.