The Rhode Island shoreline could look like this in two years.
State questions proposal for wind turbines
Announcement in Projo yesterday (on right)
By Peter B. Lord, Journal Environment Writer
Governor Carcieri’s chief energy adviser, Andrew Dzykewicz, was dismissive of the New York company that is proposing to bring wind farms to Rhode Island’s coastal waters and said the state plans to continue with its own wind farm project so it can control the power output.
Dzykewicz said Carcieri hopes to have the state start its own permit application process by the end of the year. If the state resolves all of the permitting issues in a non-adversarial process, it could then sell the permit to a private company that would build and install the wind turbines.
As for the proposal reported in The Providence Journal yesterday by Allco Renewable Energy Group Ltd. to erect up to 338 turbines, Dzykewicz said he hasn’t heard from the company and it hasn’t returned his calls. He described its effort as a fishing expedition and said, “I’m not sure how real this company is.”
“You don’t sandbag the top energy official and the governor of a state where you want to do business,” Dzykewicz said.
But late yesterday, Allco managing director Jim Wavle returned a call The Journal placed to the company’s New York offices on Thursday. Wavle said the company’s proposal was serious and it plans to be in Rhode Island for the long haul.
The company didn’t immediately return calls because its lead person on the Rhode Island proposal, senior vice president Gordon D. Alter, has been out of the office, Wavle said. But Wavle said Alter should be available to discuss the proposal next week.
In September, Allco dropped off a brief outline of its plans and an $8,000 application fee at the offices of the Coastal Resources Management Council, the state agency that regulates coastal development.
Allco proposed erecting 235 to 338 wind turbines off Watch Hill, south of Block Island and south of Little Compton and Middletown.
It was asking CRMC for a “preliminary determination,” a listing of the information that CRMC would require in a formal application. CRMC, which has no regulations or plans governing wind farms, still has not responded. But the agency announced this week it would do a planning study of Rhode Island coastal waters so it can best determine where alternative energy devices should go.
Allco said it would assemble the turbines at Quonset Point. But David Preston, a spokesman for the state industrial park, said yesterday no one at Quonset has spoken to Allco. Quonset would be interested in hearing proposals though, he said.
Dzykewicz has been meeting with local “stakeholders” and utilizing consultants to determine where the best offshore sites would be for a wind farm. So far they have identified 10 offshore and one on land, in Little Compton.
Carcieri wants to develop wind farms similar in scope to the Cape Wind proposal in Nantucket Sound. Dzykewicz said the wind farms could supply 18 percent of Rhode Island’s energy needs.
But the Cape Wind project has been stalled by five years of legal and political battles over the local, state and federal permits it needs. Dzykewicz said a plan is evolving in Rhode Island that would avoid much of that trouble.
“Rather than select a site and ram it down people’s throats, we’re trying to keep everyone in the loop,” Dzykewicz said. He said he met with Block Island residents last week and found that even people who didn’t want to see a wind farm built nearby saw the need for it, particularly if Block Island could use the power to replace the power it generates at very high costs with diesel powered generators.
He said he is planning to have the state apply for a siting permit from CRMC and the Army Corps of Engineers. Once granted, he said such permits would be “incredibly profitable” to private companies that would bid for the right to build and operate the wind turbines.
“If we can eliminate the siting risks, that makes it a much safer ballgame for companies,” he said. “There is absolutely no benefit in having the process being adversarial. We should work with people and accommodate their legitimate needs.”
Wavle said Allco is fully aware of all the controversy surrounding Cape Wind and that is why it is not taking its proposal lightly. With climate change and growing “energy security issues,” he said more and more people agree it is time to utilize alternative energy sources such as wind.
This story by Peter B. Lord ran in the Friday edition of the Providence Journal.