3/31/10

Rethinking Deepwater Wind

Now that the PUC has rejected the pricing scheme that would have propelled the Deepwater Wind offshore wind farm project forward, calling it not "commercially reasonable," it's time to regroup and rethink the project. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of options on the table right now.

According to the terms of the arrangement that Deepwater and National Grid negotiated, the price per kilowatt hour of electricity generated by Deepwater would have started at 24.4 cents. That price is 3x the cost of electricity at present. Over the course of the 20-yr. contract the price would have risen to almost 50 cents per kilowatt hour. That would make the cost of electricity in RI one of the highest in the country. Major RI employers who use a lot of electricity would have seen their costs of doing business skyrocket.

I personally think its important for the future economy of our state to salvage the project and make wind energy a future reality. But we can't do that by saddling our economy with an unreasonable energy bill.

RI needs to take a closer look at how Delaware - our closest competitor to being the first East Coast state to get offshore wind energy up and running - is handling the cost of electricity issue. Perhaps the federal government will have to assist states that are attempting to do this with an energy subsidy for a number of years.

One thing is certain: we will not see any of the potential benefits of offshore wind energy if we can't get some projects going. RI is in the race to host one of the first such projects,and so we must find a way to make this economically viable.

Let's hear what you think.