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Governor signs bill to procure another 1,000 megawatts of offshore wind for RI 

Credit:  Alex Kuffner | The Providence Journal | July 6, 2022 | www.providencejournal.com ~~

NORTH KINGSTOWN – Fifteen years ago, when then-Governor Donald Carcieri and others in state government first raised the prospect of harnessing the winds off Rhode Island’s coast to generate clean energy, they talked of the jobs and economic development that offshore wind would bring to the state.

On Wednesday, as Gov. Dan McKee signed legislation for the procurement of yet another batch of power from ocean wind farms, evidence of the industry could be found around him in the Quonset Business Park.

A stone’s throw from where McKee and state lawmakers gathered is the headquarters of Atlantic Wind Transfers, a local company that built and operates a boat to bring workers to and from the nation’s first offshore wind farm near Block Island. On the other side of where the ceremony was held is the boatyard where Senesco Marine is building three more crew transfer vessels to serve projects proposed off Rhode Island and New York. And across the industrial park is the newly-refurbished pier that will handle turbines and other wind farm components.

With the completion of the Block Island Wind Farm in 2016, Rhode Island became the first state to start buying offshore wind power. But it’s no longer alone. Utilities in Massachusetts, Connecticut and other states have contracts in place with developers. And the Biden administration is backing the industry as part of a larger effort to transition from fossil fuels and slash greenhouse gas emissions.

McKee was among representatives of 11 East Coast states who met with Biden two weeks ago as part of a new partnership to streamline offshore wind development.

“I talked to the President about what Rhode Island’s doing and he is vested in our state,” McKee said. “We’re going to make this happen.”

On top of the power from the 30-megawatt Block Island project, an agreement is in place to supply 400 megawatts of capacity from the yet-to-be-built Revolution Wind project in Rhode Island Sound.

The new bill directs Rhode Island Energy, the state’s dominant utility renamed in May after it was purchased by Pennsylvania-based PPL Corp., to solicit contract proposals for another 600 to 1,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity.

If the full amount is secured, it would meet nearly half of the state’s electric demand in 2030, even accounting for the continuing electrification of the heating and transportation sectors, said Nicholas Ucci, the outgoing commissioner of the state Office of Energy Resources.

“Rhode Island’s commitment to offshore wind energy is the boldest of any state in the nation, especially considering our small, but very mighty stature,” said Ucci, who’s set to leave his position as the state’s top energy official at the end of the month.

The legislation for the procurement stalled over questions about rewarding Rhode Island Energy for signing contracts with developers. Although an amendment leaves room for the utility to be compensated with payments equal to up to 1 percent of a contract’s value, there are restrictions. To qualify for remuneration, projects must be operating by Dec. 31, 2026, but that will be a difficult deadline to meet because of the long development time for offshore wind proposals.

“We know that offshore wind is coming,” said Sen. Dawn Euer, one of the lead sponsors of the bill. “We want to make sure that we are the leader.”

Source:  Alex Kuffner | The Providence Journal | July 6, 2022 | www.providencejournal.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial educational effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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