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PUC to consider contract extension for National Grid/Deepwater

The Public Utilities Commission has scheduled a hearing on the Power Purchase Agreement between National Grid and Deepwater Wind to buy power from the 5-turbine offshore wind farm proposed for three miles south of Block Island. The hearing will consider a request from National Grid that an extension of its contract with Deepwater, which it requested on September 29, be affirmed by the PUC.

The contract was set to expire on June 30, a year after it was approved by the PUC under legislation by the General Assembly. But Toray Plastics had appealed the PUC’s approval in Rhode Island Supreme Court, and the court did not reach its verdict, which upheld the PUC’s decision, until July 1.

Now, Toray Plastics has objected to the request for a contract extension because it was made after the date that the contract was set to expire. A group of four island residents, calling themselves “Citizen Interveners,” has written to the commission supporting Toray’s objection to the contract extension. They are Rosemarie and Jonathan Ives, Michael Beauregard and James O’Neil.

Rhode Island based economist Miles O. Bidwell has also sent a letter to the commission opposing the Deepwater project on the grounds that it will make power too expensive.

“At some point any independent Commission must decide when to oppose bad but politically popular public policy,” Bidwell wrote. “The RI PUC and its staff have an expertise that the legislature does not and cannot have.”

The hearing will take place on Wednesday, November 2, at 9:30 a.m. and will include arguments by Toray, the “Citizen Interveners,” National Grid and Deepwater. Each party will have 15 minutes to present its argument, except Toray, which will have 20 minutes and a chance for rebuttal. The commission may also allow additional arguments from the other parties at the discretion of its chairman.