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NEW SHOREHAM—With the public comment period on Deepwater Wind’s Block Island wind turbine project open, respondents to the Coastal Resources Management Council have criticized the environmental engineering firm’s request for a $700,000 waiver on their application fee. The comment period has recently been extended to Monday, Feb. 4.
A World That Works, LLC, a for-profit environmental consulting firm based on Block Island, has hit out against Deepwater Wind’s application fee waiver request, stating that it is in conflict with the Joint Development Agreement (JDA) that was signed by former Governor Donald Carcieri, former Department of Administration Director Jerome Williams and Deepwater Wind in Jan. 2009.
“The JDA expressly forbids Deepwater from seeking ‘state-paid subsidies’ for the project which is the subject of the applications filed with CRMC,” read A World That Works’s formal objection. “The requested ‘credit in kind’ or waiver of hundreds of thousands of dollars in application fees would amount to a ‘state-paid subsidy’ for the project.”
The environmental consulting firm, which is operated by Block Island residents Michael and Maggie Delia, filed the formal complaint with CRMC last week. In their objection, the Delias note that they have ‘previously been granted Intervenor status by the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission in state administrative proceedings related to the [Deepwater Wind offshore wind project].’
Laura Dwyer, Public Educator and Information Coordinator at CRMC, stated that because they have received many complaints regarding the $700,000 application fee waiver request, they will address the issue in full council separately from other concerns expressed during the public comment period.
“It looks like the fee waiver request will be heard right now separately from the application itself,” said Dwyer. “We want to get this issue squared away and won’t make a ruling on the application until a decision.”
“Something else to note is that Deepwater Wind has signed the fee agreement, which means they are agreeing to pay additional fees if that is determined somewhere along the process,” she added. “That is standard with any application. The fee waiver request has not been considered or decided yet, so there is still the possibility that they pay this $700,000.”
Jeffrey Grybowski, Chief Administrative Officer at Deepwater Wind, feels that their request does not conflict with the JDA, however, and stated that the waiver was made for CRMC to consider in light of monies paid by the company to support the creation of the Ocean Special Area Management Plan (OceanSAMP), which was stipulated in the JDA.
“We asked for [the $700,000] credit because in 2009 we paid $3.2 million to reimburse the State of Rhode Island for the cost of the OceanSAMP process. We have asked CRMC to take that into consideration.”
“We feel like we are in compliance with the JDA,” he added. “The application fee is intact and we don’t think it is applicable to any filing we would make with CRMC.”
The wind farm will consist of five wind turbines which will produce 30 megawatts of electrical energy. The transmission line, a 34.5 kilowatt, bundled copper cable, will stretch from Block Island to Narragansett Pier, traveling along the ocean floor and buried under the sediment approximately 10 feet deep.
The Delias also criticized the state and Deepwater Wind regarding their electric rate increase agreement with National Grid, which sees typical customer rates increase by 5.1 percent.
“According to the DPUC, Rhode Island’s ratepayers will be paying more than $400 million dollars in excess energy bills over the next 20 years with Deepwater’s proposed plant,” said Michael and Maggie Delia. “That’s more than 20 million dollars a year that Rhode Island ratepayers will be paying over the current market price.”
“This is not in the best interest of Rhode Island, Block Island, or Narragansett, who’s slated to be the landfall of the cable from the Deepwater Wind Farm,” they added.
The Delias further stated that the detriments of Deepwater Wind’s proposed wind project far outweigh the benefits.
“Renewable energy is too important not to get it right,” said the Delias. “This will produce less than 1 percent of the energy needed by the state, will create six permanent jobs, as per sworn testimony at Docket 4111 of the RI PUC, and will cost ratepayers $20 million per year over market. We do not think it is right or justified for the CRMC to grant this kind of additional monies to a large corporation.”
“This is a flawed project,” they added. “If it moves ahead, it should at least pay it fair share by paying its application fee.”