The piece in the South County Independent (“Deepwater key to wind industry’s success,” Oct. 24) raises several questions. In that article, Tom Kiernan, CEO of American Wind Energy, the sponsor of a wind energy convention in Providence, listed four justifications for wind generation. I have no quarrel with his first and last reasons.
The two other benefits of offshore wind that he states are blatantly wrong: that it will lower prices and that it relieves transmission costs. If Deepwater Wind truly wanted to lower prices, they would sell the power from their Block Island Wind Farm proposal for 6 cents per kWh, not 24.4 cents. His other point, that it relieves transmission costs, is clearly erroneous since submarine cables are at least 10 times more expensive per mile than terrestrial lines. Furthermore, his comment is a thinly veiled reference to transporting wind power from Maine. Any person will realize that energy produced in Maine will be consumed in Maine; only the contracted, low cost will be transmitted to Rhode Island.
Secondly, Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said he is in the final stages of closing on the financials. Is he possibly putting the cart before the horse? The permitting of the Scarborough Beach alternative transmission line landing has not even begun at any level of government.
In the piece, Sebastian Chivers, senior vice president of London-based PMSS issued a subtle warning: transporting the infrastructure and personnel from Europe is not a long term solution. I would add it’s not a short term solution either. Mr. Grybowski, where is General Electric or some other domestic company in your scheme? Chivers said stakeholder management is one of the keys – if you don’t start early enough and do it right, then you shoot yourself in the foot. He also said “Deepwater … must prove [its] worth to the residents they must partner with to connect their farms to the mainland grid.” This is a not so subtle prod from a European expert right in the face of the arrogant attitude Deepwater Wind has demonstrated in pushing the Block Island proposal. Right on, Mr. Chivers!
The most obvious chastisement of Deepwater Wind came from Tony Pike, a Boston-based consultant, who was even more blunt, saying “Instead of bringing forth an inflexible, ironclad plan for wind farms to towns, companies must assume an inclusive stance and invite participation from the beginning.” Instead, Grybowski has adroitly used subterfuge and secrecy to push the Deepwater Wind scheme thus far. He has steadfastly resisted sitting down across a table from residents since the beginning. Maybe we have something to offer: a viable alternative that could have saved you a more than 18-month delay in your approval process.
The author is a member of Deepwater Resistance.
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