Rhode Island CRMC Gives Go-Ahead to Block Island OWF
The Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) unanimously approved the final submerged lands lease and two joint licenses and assents for the five-turbine wind farm project off Block Island at its meeting last week.
These were the final permits needed as stipulated by the CRMC in its original decision for Deepwater Wind, the developer of the country’s first offshore wind farm.
CRMC legal counsel, along with a representative of Shechtman Halperin Savage, LLP, a legal firm hired as outside advisory counsel to assist in the creation of the agreements, presented the three documents to Council members last night. Some of the highlights of the submerged lands lease are:
- The submerged lands lease for the five turbines will begin November 12, 2014 and will be valid until the 25th anniversary of the commercial operating commencement date;
- The actual lease area will encompass land occupied by the actual turbines and include a 200-foot perimeter around each turbine;
- The rental payment in the lease states the annual payment as $150,000 or that which is determined using the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEMRE) formula, whichever is higher;
- The initial letter of credit will be for $7.5 million (an accurate estimate from the Certified Verification Agent or CVA for the cost of decommissioning the wind farm)
The Block Island transmission cable and inter-array cable (both to connect the wind farm to the mainland and to Block Island) were both drafted as a license and assent in one document, which the CRMC has done with other transmission cables in the past. The Block Island transmission cable license area is limited to the width of the cable and an additional 50 feet on either side. It will be licensed for 90 years, to eventually be transferred to National Grid. The inter-array cable, which will connect the wind farm to Block Island, has the same term period as the submerged lands lease (25 years). The license will be governed by Rhode Island law like the lease (this was added because the cable will pass through federal waters).
“The Council and CRMC staff did an excellent job of managing the review of this project from start to finish, and I sincerely thank them for their diligence throughout this process,” said CRMC Chair Anne Maxwell Livingston. “The sheer volume of this application – and the fact that for the first time, the State of Rhode Island was preparing to permit an offshore wind farm – was quite daunting, but the Council members and our professional staff handled it all with efficiency, great attention to detail, and in accordance with our Ocean SAMP document.”
Council members commented on the technical nature of the documents, and applauded all of the parties in drafting them in order to protect the State and the CRMC, in accordance with the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Program and the Ocean Special Area Management Plan, the guiding document for the project and permitting of the wind farm.
“I’d like to personally thank Tom Carlotto and the lawyers at Shechtman Halperin Savage in assisting me,” said CRMC’s legal counsel Brian A. Goldman, adding that with the large volume of legal and other documents to draft, the work would have taken much time without the assistance of the outside legal counsel.
“We’ve done the best job that can humanly be done,” said Council member Tony Affigne. “I think any of us can answer questions from the public about the work that we’ve done to make sure that this agreement is in the best interest of the State, and as I asked many months ago, it is, in fact, official policy of the State of Rhode Island to promote alternative energy and to utilize offshore resources for that purpose. I think that this Council, all of you, has done a wonderful job of listening to presentations, answering, asking questions as needed, and I think that with the assistance of our legal counsel we are at a very good place now.”
Press release; Image: Deepwater Wind