Deepwater Wind: Federal Hearing Monday Night
Tomorrow (July 16) at 7:00 pm on the URI Bay Campus in Narragansett (215 South Ferry Road; Coastal Institute Building, Hazard’s Room), the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will be holding a “public information session”. Below is a description of the scope of the hearing.
BOEM leadership is hosting the following public information sessions to provide an overview of the EA and next steps in the leasing process. In addition to accepting comments on the EA, BOEM will address questions on the environmental and leasing processes as time permits.
This is a good time to remember who is responsible for foisting the Deepwater Wind project upon Rhode Island and why the project is a very bad idea. It was not BOEM or any other federal agency who decided to implement Governor Carcieri’s suggestion for an offshore wind farm. It was the Rhode Island General Assembly.
Numerous factors make this a deeply misguided decision and project.
> It will compel all Rhode Island residents and businesses to needlessly overpay (by up to 250% or more of current rates) for the electricity generated by this project.
> Proponents say that it will bring an industry to the state. But this prospect has been getting ever more remote. Firstly, Rhode Island would be competing with neighbor Massachusetts for this manufacturing. However, as of two days ago, the prospect of either state getting the industry dimmed considerably. From the Patriot Ledger.
When Cape Wind Associates signed a letter of intent to buy the foundations for its offshore turbines from a Middleboro company, it offered hope that the controversial wind farm would generate good-paying local manufacturing jobs.
But now it’s possible that those monopoles – the hollow steel foundations for the turbine towers that would be driven into the seabed – might not be made here after all.
> Further on the theory that an industry would be brought to the state, in actuality, the General Assembly can only mandate that the equipment for this specific project be made in state. Even in a best case scenario of the in-state manufacturing of both the turbines and the foundations for Deepwater Wind, these are project-specific and, therefore, temporary jobs, not an industry. Worse, they are based upon the manufacture (generation) of an end product with a grossly inflated price point. How financially sustainable or desirable would it even be to bring such an “industry” or manufacturer to the state?
> On the gritty front of operating maintenance and repair, who picks up the bill when, as Portsmouth just found out, one of the windmills requires a half million (or more) dollar repair ? How much more expensive will this or any repair be if it has to be carried out miles offshore in the … well, “deep water”?
> Perhaps most confounding of all, no one has explained how this does not further denigrate the business climate in the state by ballooning already high electric costs, especially for manufacturers. Sincere-sounding statements are frequently made by both politicians and commentators as to the need for more manufacturing to take place in the state. In the case of the approval of Deepwater Wind, it is difficult to close the gap between word and deed.
Larger picture, Rhode Island’s terrible business climate was not achieved overnight, it was built up incrementally on many fronts, spurred by well-intentioned but very impractical ideas like the Deepwater Wind project. The reality is that if the full Deepwater Wind project gets built and our electric rates go up, businesses and manufacturers are not going to dismiss those artificially high rates with the thought, “Oh, but it’s to save the planet and bring an industry to Rhode Island”. On the contrary, even higher electric rates get added to the hopper already loaded with Rhode Island’s other business … charms.