Rhode Island Governor Donald L. Carcieri joined House Speaker Gordon D. Fox and Senate President M. Teresa Paiva-Weed in submitting a letter to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in strong support of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between National Grid and Deepwater Wind, which is currently before the PUC for review.
In the letter, the three express the "commitment of the Executive and Legislative branches to supporting renewable energy resources and building an industry in Rhode Island focused on these emerging technologies."
The letter continues, "In particular we believe that the offshore wind industry presents a unique chance for Rhode Island to be a national leader. With its ample offshore wind resources, an excellent deepwater port at Quonset, and the expertise associated with the CRMC's Special Area Management Plan ("SAMP") for the Ocean Zone, Rhode Island is well-positioned to develop offshore wind and its associated industries. But, the approval of Docket 4185 PPA is a critical step to the development of the offshore wind industry in Rhode Island. Approval of a contract indicates that Rhode Island is serious about the creation of an off-shore wind manufacturing and support hub for the region."
In the letter, the Governor, Speaker and Senate President reinforce the intent of the long term contracting legislation and how the project should be considered. " the General Assembly made clear the standard of review for this new PPA and also made clear that the appropriate comparison is not to other renewable energy resources or to projections of market power prices, but to what a power market expert would expect for a project of a similar size, technology, and location. The question is, given the State's policy to develop a demonstration-scale offshore wind farm, is the PPA that has been negotiated commercially reasonable for that purpose."
As required by the statute, the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation recently presented a report to the PUC by Seth Parker of Levitan & Associates on the economic developments of the proposed Block Island Wind Farm. According to EDC's independent consultant, the overall economic benefit to Rhode Island attributed to the Block Island project is more than $100 million, and close to $900 million for the larger project in federal waters, with the economic activity centered at Quonset Business Park.
"This past legislative session, I worked together with the Speaker and Senate President to clarify the original intent of the long term contracting legislation and require the consideration of both the economic and environmental benefits of this project," said Governor Carcieri. "This project holds the key for Rhode Island to take and maintain the lead in the offshore wind, renewable energy industry. We cannot afford to lose this opportunity to take control of our economic destiny."
"The Block Island demonstration project is a major step forward in our state's effort to achieve our renewable energy goals and to develop jobs in the green energy sector. Rhode Island has a unique opportunity to become a national leader in this emerging technology with the approval of the power purchase agreement," said Speaker Gordon D. Fox.
President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed said, "This project helps to advance wind power development in Rhode Island and position our state to become a national leader in the wind industry. Tremendous momentum has been gathering around wind power development in Rhode Island. This project allows our state to seize upon a tremendous opportunity to bring jobs and economic development to the state."
The Governor, Speaker and Senate President thank the Commissioners and the staff for their hard work and commitment to meeting the 45-day deadline. "Your efforts truly are important. Timely approval of the PPA will signal that Rhode Island is ready to lead this emerging industry."