This letter was sent to the members of the Coastal Resources Management Council and copied to The Block Island Times.
My name is Mary Jane Balser. I am a year-round resident of Block Island. I am a former member of the Town Council for New Shoreham (Block Island) and former Finance Director for the Town government. I have built a 20-unit affordable housing development on the Island. Most importantly, I own and operate the Block Island Grocery. My business is one of the largest, if not the largest, commercial consumers of electricity on the Island. Additionally, my business is one of the largest retail businesses on the Island.
I am profoundly against the Deepwater Block Island project. I have studied the need for an alternate source of power to our island for many years. In fact, I was responsible for a series of federal and state grant submissions to provide financing for a submarine cable to the Island.
I do not understand how any member of the Rhode Island government (whether executive, legislative, judicial or regulatory) could support such a fiscally irresponsible project as the Deepwater Block Island project. If permitted, this project will cost me and every other ratepayer in Rhode Island over $500 million in costs in excess of market costs for power. National Grid, in response to requests for information from the R.I. Public Utilities Commission (PUC) requests, has routinely estimated this excess cost over the past three years to be between $400 million and $550 million above market cost. Regardless of what you may be told by Deepwater or its proponents, I do not believe that my business will ever benefit from this project if allowed to proceed with these costs to the public, even on Block Island.
The only way to secure less expensive and more reliable power for us on the Island is through a stand-alone cable. For over 20 years, I have worked to get the state to socialize a cable to the island for far far less than this project will cost. Today, a stand-alone cable would cost only 20 percent of the cost of the Deepwater Block Island project and cable and we could all buy “green power” from existing options offered by National Grid and its affiliates for much less per kWh than Deepwater will ever offer.
Most importantly, I believe my business will suffer from the dramatic impact this power plant will have on the unique environmental qualities of Block Island. It is a destination for all looking to enjoy serenity and nature. Just this week, The Block Island Times published its annual Block Island Weddings magazine targeting engaged couples and their wedding planners to consider Block Island for their weddings. In fact, on the cover of the magazine, there is a U.S. Marine and his newlywed bride pictured set off of Paynes Lookout with the SE Lighthouse, Mohegan Bluffs and Atlantic Ocean in the background. That setting will never be available for the next 20 years because five 600-foot turbines will be very highly visible as well. No bride will ever want that in her wedding picture. No one can argue that the loss of this viewshed will not harm my business and any other on the Island.
Please deny Deepwater’s application for this project.
Mary Jane Balser
Southwest Point Rd.
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