The Rhode Island Superior Court denied an appeal by opponents to Deepwater’s proposed Block Island wind farm that were seeking legal intervenor status in the permitting process for the wind farm.
At a hearing on Wednesday, Oct. 2, Superior Court Judge Michael A. Silverstein affirmed the decision of the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), which denied intervenor status to the individuals, according to Craig Berke, director of community outreach at the Superior Court.
In May, the CRMC denied legal intervenor standing to eight applicants during Deepwater Wind’s permitting process. Five of these applicants – Jon Ives, Rosemarie Ives, Katy Homans, Michael Beauregard and John Lyons – filed for appeal to the Superior Court. The appeal was filed by attorney Terence Tierney on July 19.
“The [Superior] court deferred to the CRMC finding that plaintiffs did not raise any concrete and particularized issues, but it’s difficult to imagine a more concrete allegation of harm than the 40 percent drop in the plaintiff’s property values,” said Tierney.
Tierney added that he and the five applicants are “analyzing” the Superior Court decision, and “contemplating” a further appeal to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.
“That [the denial] was a real disappointment,” said Rosemarie Ives. “But we’re going to continue to oppose the project.”
Ives said she was considered an intervenor in a 2010 Public Utilities Commission (PUC) docket 4185, which is when the PUC approved a Purchase Power agreement between Deepwater and National Grid. “The thing that’s confusing is how the CRMC operates – it appears to be arbitrary,” said Ives. “From our perspective, it seems to be pretty inconsistent with the PUC.”
Michael Beauregard also commented on the court’s decision: “I believe that there has been a double standard here, when you compare this with the process pursued in the Champlin’s Marina case in front of the CRMC.” He noted that various interest groups were granted intervenor status in this CRMC hearing.
An intervenor has legal standing as the Deepwater’s permitting process moves forward; for example, an intervenor would be able to cross-examine witnesses during public hearings. The CRMC is the state agency responsible for permitting the proposed Block Island wind farm.
In July, the CRMC agreed to postpone any hearings or decisions on the wind farm until the Superior Court made its decision. Now that the decision on the intervenors’ appeal has been made, the CRMC can begin to schedule public hearings.
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