Clarification: Deepwater to reimburse the state for part of the SAMP

Mon, 02/08/2010 - 5:00am

02/06/10 - Fred Hashway, director of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, confirmed this week that Deepwater Wind would reimburse the state for up to $3.2 million of the $6.6 million Special Area Management Plan (SAMP) project being undertaken by the University of Rhode Island and Coastal Resources Management Council.

The SAMP is an effort to zone the ocean off Rhode Island, primarily to identify optimal locations for wind farms.

Whale Swamp Road resident Michael Delia, an intervenor in the Deepwater and National Grid Power Purchase Agreement matter currently before the Public Utilities Commission, offered written testimony pointing to Deepwater’s role in financing the SAMP.

The CRMC denied that Deepwater was helping underwrite the plan, as the Times reported last week.

However, Hashaway explained that as part of the initial Joint Development Agreement signed by the state and Deepwater, the developer agreed to place $3.2 million in escrow to reimburse the state for its efforts.

According to Hashway, U.R.I. submits bills to the EDC, which it pays from the Renewable Energy Fund, then reimburses itself from the Deepwater escrow account held by J.P. Morgan. To date, $1.7 million has come from the escrow account, he said.

CRMC officials have been adamant that a “firewall” exists between those preparing the SAMP and any commercial interests. And, according to Hashway, “everyone involved in this process has been scrupulous” in honoring that firewall.

Deepwater’s proposed wind farms off Block Island are “too important” an opportunity for the state to put them at risk, he said, and the process has been public and “totally transparent.”