July 15, 2012

Deepwater Wind: Federal Hearing Monday Night

Monique Chartier

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.

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If I am not mistaken, the turbines to be used were to be of Spanish manufacture. In light of present circumstances, Spain has had to withdraw its' subsidy and the industry has collapsed. Has another source been found?

Posted by: Warrington Faust at July 15, 2012 10:24 PM

Siemens will supply five of its new 6.0-megawatt direct drive offshore wind turbines for the Block Island Wind Farm. This will be the first project in the United States, and one of the first anywhere in the world, to use the new turbine, which will be commercially available for the project. Siemens also makes the off-shore mounting tower.

Deepwater Wind wants National Grid to run an undersea electric cable to Block Island to make up any loss of power from the wind farm.

However, no electric utility company in the world except in Hawaii allows more than the de facto standard of 15% renewable energy on their grids due to the non-consistent flow of energy and possibility of grid trip out due to uneven loads.

In Hawaii Maui Electric Company (MECO) has allowed 30% peak grid power to be generated by renewable energy but there are special controls that have been put in place. Also on Maui a special wind farm has been brought on-line that supplies constant firm power to the grid with a custom created addition making it the only wind farm of its kind in the world to accomplish this feat!

No electric utility company in the world has ever tested how much renewable energy can safely be allowed on the grid before trip out.

Over the next 2 years that test will be accomplished in Hawaii by the US Department of Energy with help from Japan and South Korea. Also the test will be completed with a smart grid under normal community loads, smart grid components individually will be tested and the security of a smart grid will be tested. Answers will not be known till 2014.

Posted by: KenW at July 16, 2012 3:44 AM


The sponsor of the bill - Speaker wannabe J. Patrick O'Neill of Narragansett who allegedly "represents" Pawtucket - took payoffs (a.k.a. campaign contributions) from Deepwater Wind execs, including the CEO, on June 13, 2011. (In fact, his finance reports are a Who's Who of lobbyists, backroom insiders, and dubious politicians.)


Posted by: Guido Fawkes at July 16, 2012 5:10 AM

Another albatross for RI from Carceiri.

The Portsmouth Turbine is down and the maintenance company cannot be found. So the waste of space sits idle until further notice. The Safeway turbine (bristol) has moved about 4 spins since installed and guess what...the maintenence company cannot be found. Hmm..that's weird.

But this project. Will work perfect.
Double-Down on Failure.

Posted by: dave at July 16, 2012 7:41 AM

Ever drive around and notice how many turbines are not spinning? The turbine at NE Tech off I-95 seems to be still a lot of the time. Yesterday, I drove to Dartmouth, MA. The 3 at Fields Point are still dormant. Going over the Braga Bridge, I noticed a turbine north of the bridge not spinning. Then there is the one in Portsmouth. And as I look out my office window in Boston, there is a turbine in Cambridge not spinning and looking at the flags, there is a steady breeze.

Posted by: Don Botts at July 16, 2012 9:40 AM

Don, forgive me if I make a slight error in the number. In most parts of the U.S. there is "effective" wind about 5 hours per day.

There may be enough wind to turn the windmill at other times. But to make a comparison, if you have a gas powered generator, how much power do you get at idle?

It may be urban myth but I understand that some of the windmills you mention are internally powered to give the appearance the wind is turning them.

I think I mentioned in another post that I recently went to an auction of the assets of a company that made wind powered air compressors. Don't know what went wrong, but compressed air is a better idea than electricity, it can be stored. Since then, I encountered an article that referred to compressed air as another failed "wind technology". It didn't provide details.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at July 16, 2012 9:30 PM

Posted by KenW:
"Siemens will supply five of its new 6.0-megawatt direct drive offshore wind turbines for the Block Island Wind Farm."

Siemens AG (aktiengesellschaft = Corporation) is a German company, any chance those turbines were from Spain?

Posted by: Warrington Faust at July 16, 2012 9:36 PM

"Ever drive around and notice how many turbines are not spinning?"

Yup. Regularly. Driving down 95 south this evening, noticed a couple on the Port of Providence (??? or someplace close) not spinning. Though perhaps they are still under construction? Then there was one further down that WAS spinning, albeit slowly.

I read someplace that these windmills operate at a maximum effectiveness (perhaps not the right word) of 30% - 50%. Is that taken into consideration in the presentation of business models for projects like Deepwater Wind?

Posted by: Monique at July 16, 2012 10:21 PM

Warrington Faust,

I don’t know if they are Spanish made or not!!!

That is what is posted on Deepwater Wind website.

However what I am pointing out in my in my post is Deepwater Wind made promises they can’t deliver on because of the unknowns which will escalate RI ratepayers’ costs for this debacle and they are trying to cover it up.

Deepwater wind dropped First Wind which has been working with Hawaii on some innovative wind farm projects and across the US nation in other states as I am surmising because First Wind is land based and had no offshore experience and Siemens is deep into offshore wind in Europe.

On the Deepwater website they originally were saying 90% of the power to Block Island would be deliver from the five of its new Siemens 6.0-megawatt direct drive offshore wind turbines and 10% would be supplied by the National Grid undersea electrical cable tied to the RI electrical utility grid with excess power from the offshore wind farm would be sold to National Grid.

Now on the Deepwater Wind website they are just saying they will provide most of the power to Block Island and National Grid via an undersea cable will pick up the slack! Why the sudden change in wording of delivery????

As I stated; “No electric utility company in the world has ever tested how much renewable energy can safely be allowed on the grid before trip out.”

The current de facto standard is 15% fluctuating renewable energy allowed on the grid to protect from trip-out and wind turbine electricity is not considered firm power due to minute to minute wind fluctuations.

As I stated; “Over the next 2 years that test will be accomplished in Hawaii by the US Department of Energy with help from Japan and South Korea. Also the test will be completed with a smart grid under normal community loads, smart grid components individually will be tested and the security of a smart grid will be tested. Answers will not be known till 2014.”

There is a looming possibility National Grid gets to lay an undersea cable to Block Island fully paid for by the ratepayer of RI adding to the cost of Deepwater Wind’s demonstration wind farm also fully paid for by the RI ratepayers and the 5 diesel generators now on Block Island may never be shut down also adding to the RI ratepayers cost not including National Grid’s electrical infrastructure which will require upgrade both in Washington County, RI and on Block Island.

RI you will end up with the highest electrical rates in the nation!

This is a massive screw job of epic proportions to the residents of RI and businesses!!!!

Posted by: KenW at July 18, 2012 2:53 AM
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