Your lead Jan. 21 editorial (“Cape Wind becalmed”) provides readers with a good review of the continuing challenges to development of offshore wind energy, but omits a very important fact that, curiously, has received no attention in the Rhode Island press.
The editorial holds out hope that new offshore leases with larger turbines might prove to be more attractive than what we have seen so far from Cape Wind and Deepwater’s Block Island projects.
But we have a fresh example of what that might bring, and it is not good. Just last month, New York’s Long Island Power Authority rejected Deepwater’s bid for such a project as “prohibitively expensive.”
Furthermore, in the process of submitting that bid, Deepwater promised the Long Island labor unions that the construction jobs would go to Long Island workers – so much for Rhode Island job prospects! I have yet to see this story reported in Rhode Island.
Both the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission and Supreme Court have recognized that the economic benefits of Deepwater’s Block Island Project come nowhere near the economic cost to ratepayers (now upwards of $500 million). Project supporters have long tried to soothe our concerns with promises that the Block Island demonstration project would lead to larger, offshore projects that would yield benefits of lower costs and plenty of jobs for Rhode Islanders.
Failure of the Cape Wind and Long Island Power bids raise serious questions about the validity of those promises. It’s time for an honest review of what we are doing and why.
Laurence W. Ehrhardt
The writer was a state representative from 2005 through 2012.
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