Federal Grant, New Bill Keep Deepwater Project Afloat
Monday, May 03, 2010
A plan to build an off-shore wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island received a boost in February of this year when a $22.3 million federal stimulus grant was awarded to the Quonset Development Corp. for infrastructure upgrades at the Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown.
A portion of the money will go toward the purchase of a crane that Deepwater Wind can use to build turbines and move cargo containers at the port. Other companies will be allowed to use the crane as well.
That same federal grant will be used to improve railroad access and construct roads leading the site leased by Deepwater Wind, according to officials at Quonset Development Corp., which will oversee the redevelopment project, have said.
In March, the Rhode Island Public Utility Commission dealt the plan a major blow when it rejected a proposed 20-year power purchase contract between Deepwater Wind and National Grid, saying the cost of energy generated by Deepwater Wind would have been too expensive.
According to that contract, Deepwater Wind would have charged National Grid 24.4 cents per kilowatt hour in 2013 with prices increasing 3.5 percent annually after the first year of the contact. The retail price for electricity in Rhode Island currently is about 13 cents per kilowatt hour.
The status of Deepwater Wind's project remains unclear.
Amy Kempe, spokeswoman for Gov. Donald L. Carcieri, told GoLocalProv that the governor's office is working with the state Legislature to determine how to best move forward with the planned wind farm project.
"We were very disappointed with the PUC's decision," she said, adding that the governor hopes the situation will be resolved soon.
A new bill filed April 29 in the Rhode Island Senate, would bypass the PUC, authorizing four state agency directors to give the go-ahead on the project.
That same day, U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced he had approved an offshore wind farm in Massachusetts. In a press release, Gov. Carcieri hailed the move as a “significant step forward in developing the off shore wind industry on the East Coast.”
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