NARRAGANSETT – Councilman Matthew Mannix has asked the Town Council to consider suspending negotiations with Deepwater Wind until July 1.
Mannix submitted the motion to the Town Clerk’s office earlier this week, for placement on Monday night’s Town Council meeting agenda. The motion also directs Town Solicitor Mark McSally to formally tell the state Coastal Resources Management Council the town has not entered into an agreement with the wind farm company.
In an interview, Mannix cited the complexity of the project and its “unclear” impacts on the town.
“My duty is to make sure that the Deepwater Wind project is going to have a positive impact on the town. If we find out it doesn’t, it’s not a project we want to move forward with,” Mannix said. “As of right now, we’re learning information about Deepwater and I think we’ll have a period of time now to do more research and to look at the benefits and drawbacks.”
Acting Town Manager Richard Kerbel said the agenda for Monday’s council meeting has not been finalized, but all council members’ motions are usually included. Agendas are typically posted to the town’s website Friday afternoon.
Deepwater has proposed a 30-megawatt wind farm off the coast of Block Island that would generate enough energy for the island with 90 percent remaining for mainland use. The company is looking for an easement from Narragansett to land a transmission line near Town Beach and run it overhead from the Pier up Narragansett Avenue and Kingstown Road, through Sprague Park, to a switch yard north of the town’s Public Works maintenance garage.
Under the plan, National Grid would purchase the excess energy at a cost of 24.4 cents per kilowatt-hour in the first year of production and costs would increase by 3.5 percent each subsequent year of its 20 years of operation. The farm would then be decommissioned.
If approved, the demonstration-scale wind farm is expected to create 200 temporary construction jobs, based at the Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown and on the Gulf Coast. Once the wind farm is operational, there would be six full-time positions to maintain the turbines, Deepwater officials have said.
After the Block Island farm is running, Deepwater plans a 150-200 turbine offshore regional energy center that would supply energy to Long Island, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut. This project would create 600 to 800 jobs, according to the Quonset Business Park website. Deepwater has had an option to lease 117 acres of property at Quonset since 2009.
On March 5, the council hosted a public workshop with representatives from Deepwater to explain the plan and detail its effects on Narragansett.
At the workshop, Mannix said that one of his primary goals was to make the Deepwater negotiations as transparent as possible.
“I was newly elected and felt that way too much was being done behind closed doors,” he said. “You have to stay involved and keep the council accountable,” he said, at that meeting.
There will also be a CRMC public hearing on Deepwater Wind Friday, April 5 at 9 a.m., in the Town Hall Assembly Room, 25 Fifth Ave. Block Island part-time residents Maggie and Michael Delias are asking the agency to intervene on Deepwater’s application as a whole. Earlier this month, a CRMC subcommittee denied the company’s request for a $700,000 fee waiver on a 4-1 vote, saying Deepwater could not prove payment of the fee would result in economic hardship for the company. The full CRMC must still vote on the matter, but no date has been set.
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