Deepwater cable hearing

Scheduled by DEM for Dec. 11
Sun, 11/17/2013 - 3:00pm

The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will hold a public hearing on Deepwater Wind’s proposal to install its electric transmission cable at Scarborough State Beach in Narragansett.

This hearing will be on Dec. 11. from 6 to 10 p.m. at Narragansett Town Hall, according to a notice by the DEM. Public comment will be accepted at this hearing. The DEM is also accepting written public comments about this matter until Dec. 23.

The DEM notice states: “The Department of Environmental Management has under consideration the application of: Deepwater Wind Block Island Transmission, LLC... for a Modification to a State of Rhode Island Dredge Permit and Water Quality Certificate Application.”

According to the notice, issued on Nov. 8, this permit would allow Deepwater “to construct and maintain” its transmission cable, called the Block Island Transmission System (BITS). This cable will connect Deepwater’s proposed five-turbine offshore wind farm, which would be built off Block Island, with the mainland power grid.

Deepwater Wind announced in September that it plans to land its electric transmission cable at Scarborough State Beach. Deepwater had originally planned to install the cable at Narragansett Town Beach, but withdrew those plans in August due to opposition from residents and the Narragansett Town Council.

The DEM notice states: “Deepwater has submitted a modification to the Environmental Report as part of their application.” The notice lists three specific changes: the withdrawal of the Town Beach proposal, the addition of the Scarborough proposal, and the “withdrawal of a long-distance horizontal directional drill (HDD) landing option for the BITS export cable at Crescent Beach in the Town of New Shoreham.”

According to Block Island Wind Farm Manager Bryan Wilson, Deepwater proposed to remove this option about how the cable will make landfall at the Town Beach parking lot because Wilson called it “more expensive.” This option called for the cable to be installed several hundreds of yards offshore, and connect to a cofferdam (an enclosed structure built in the water).

Instead, the cable will make landfall at the Town Beach, “from below the waterline, under the beach and dunes, and into the parking area,” said Wilson.

There are currently no Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) or State Properties Commission public hearings scheduled about Deepwater, according to Wilson.