Deepwater requests fee waiver

Objection filed by island homeowners
Fri, 01/25/2013 - 2:30pm

The estimated cost of Deepwater Wind’s proposed five-turbine, 30-megawatt wind farm to be built off the southeast side of Block Island is $205 million. But before installation can start, the company must win approval from various state and federal agencies through an extensive permitting process.

And Deepwater has asked at least one of these permitting agencies, the state Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC), to waive an application fee of  around $700,000.

“In 2009, Deepwater Wind contributed $3.2 [million] to Rhode Island Renewable Energy Development Fund which was managed by the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (EDC),” Deepwater writes in its waiver application. “Deepwater Wind requests that a credit in kind be applied in lieu of an application fee. DWW will cover costs associated with applications hearings as required in the regulations.”

Deepwater Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski released a statement this week further justifying the company’s fee waiver request. “In addition to the $3.2 million, we have spent over $7 million to perform various studies to support development. Those studies are unprecedented in their scope and have produced data and resources that will promote CRMC’s primary responsibility for managing the state’s coastal region,” said Grybowski. “We have made this data available to researchers at URI and other institutions, and the data has been an invaluable addition to the understanding of the Rhode Island Sound ecosystem.”

Laura Ricketson-Dwyer, CRMC public educator and information coordinator, told the Times that the “council will likely consider the fee waiver request as a separate matter from the application.” She noted that Deepwater signed a separate fee agreement to pay any other fees the state might request.

Block Island homeowners Maggie and Michael Delia filed an objection to Deepwater Wind’s fee waiver request.

“At a time when Rhode Island is in desperate need of money for other projects, it is not in the taxpayers’ best interests to waive a fee of $700,000 for Deepwater Wind, which is backed by one of the world’s largest hedge fund firms,” the Delias said in a press release.

The approximate $700,000 filing fee is based upon an estimate of the project’s cost.

The Delias’ objection was filed Friday, January 11, at CRMC offices in Wakefield.

The CRMC is currently accepting public comments on Deepwater’s proposed Block Island wind farm. The deadline for public comment is February 4.

The CRMC 60-Day Public Notice does not note that the fee has not been paid. “Such notice is in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act,” the Delias argue in their objection. “No provision of the CRMC regulations allow the filing fee to be waived.”