Division asks court to affirm fast ferry license

Thu, 06/27/2019 - 5:30pm

The Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carriers has again stated that it has no interest in stripping Rhode Island Fast Ferry of its license at this time, or revisiting arguments regarding dockage plans for operating a proposed seasonal high-speed ferry service from Quonset Point to Block Island.

The Division requested that the Superior Court affirm the granting of RIFF’s Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity license.

The town and Interstate Navigation have been waging a legal battle contesting the license since it was granted by the Division on Sept. 22, 2016. The town and Interstate filed a joint brief in Superior Court on May 20, issuing 10 requests of the court, and its presiding Judge, Maureen B. Keough, requesting that RIFF be stripped of its license.

The Division granted RIFF’s license in 2016 with the condition that the company secure dockage at Old Harbor for the service within a year’s time. That deadline has twice been extended by a year. The town and Interstate’s arguments are based on their belief that RIFF cannot secure dockage for operating the service.

In a response brief filed by the Division in Superior Court on June 19, the Division stated that the town and Interstate are using delay tactics with their filings in opposing RIFF’s license.

RIFF filed an opposition brief on June 19 as well, countering the petitioner’s joint brief, arguing that their arguments hold no merit.

The Division noted in its response that it doesn’t believe the town and Interstate have grounds to warrant a remand back to its offices; something the petitioners have requested since RIFF’s license was granted.

The Division’s response notes that: “The motion appears to have been filed in an effort to further delay these proceedings since it was filed only after RIFF moved for an order setting a briefing schedule. The Petitioners took the same tact with their first remand motion, filing it only after RIFF filed a motion for a briefing schedule during the early days of this case.”

The Division countered the town and Interstate’s list of 10 requests of the court with six of its own: “(1) affirm the Division’s September 2016 CPCN Order; (2) find that the Division’s June 2017 Order is moot; (3) affirm the Division’s July 2018 Order; (4) affirm the Division’s September 2018 Order; (5) deny the relief sought by the Town and Interstate; and (6) grant the Division all other relief to which it is entitled.”

In its first request, the Division wrote that since RIFF’s license was granted, the petitioners have filed “at least eight administrative appeals. The Division maintains that the Sept. 2016 CPCN order is not affected by any of the (town and Interstate’s) enumerated factors, which would justify this court reversing or modifying the order, or remanding the matter back to the Division for further proceedings, and it should therefore be affirmed by this court.”

(The briefs filed by RIFF and the Division are attached to this article in PDF format.)