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Chamber’s incomprehensible support for wind project

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the Deepwater Wind project. In an Aug. 2 Commentary piece (“38 Studios fallout must not paralyze us,” with Michael Michael Sabitoni, president of the Rhode Island Construction and Building Trades Council), Chamber President Laurie White criticized the opponents of this overly expensive and ill-advised offshore wind turbine proposal.

Her chamber’s position is incomprehensible, because the project will do nothing for any of its members, excluding Deepwater Wind and National Grid, except increase their electricity rates.

Let’s examine some of the facts that those who support the Deepwater Wind Project have chosen to ignore:

•Phase One of the project will cost all Rhode Island electricity ratepayers, except those on Block Island, about $500 million, and Phase Two an estimated $2 billion. This does not include federal and state subsidies designed to encourage these non-cost-effective renewable projects.

•Offshore wind turbines produce electricity intermittently and less than 50 percent of the time, thus requiring back-up generators to remain on line. In New England, this will involve gas turbines and the result will be a negligible reduction of carbon dioxide.

•The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission found that the Deepwater Wind Project was not cost-effective. The primary seller of green power in Rhode Island, People’s Power and Light, said it was too expensive.

•William Ferguson, executive director of the Energy Council of Rhode Island, has stated that the Deepwater Wind power purchase agreement is the most expensive he is aware of in New England. It starts at 24.4 cents per kilowatt hour and, based on escalation clauses, will average 34 cents over 20 years. We are now paying about 7 cents per KWHr.

•Only six permanent jobs will be created by the project, according to Deepwater Wind’s own testimony under oath.

•Donald Furman, the executive vice president of Iberdrola, the world’s largest wind-power company, has stated that offshore-wind projects in the United States are not a good investment.

•Denmark is the leader in offshore-wind projects in Europe and has the highest electricity prices in the European Union and no measurable reduction in CO{-2}.

How can our legislators, Rhode Island’s leading newspaper and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce endorse a project that will only hurt our businesses and adversely impact our economy? They owe their constituents an explanation!

Roger L. Buck, a retired Navy captain, formerly served as director of the Rhode Island Energy Office and as executive director of the Energy Council of Rhode Island.