DPUC denies Interstate’s loan request for new fast ferry

Calls for investigation
Fri, 01/04/2019 - 4:00pm

The state Division of Public Utilities and Carriers has denied Interstate Navigation’s request to incur $8.5 million in debt to build a new 500-passenger fast ferry.

The 22 page Report and Order was issued Friday, Jan. 4. Interstate has 30 days to file an appeal.

In its ruling, the DPUC also said it would open an investigation as to the timing for Interstate’s request to build a new fast ferry and whether that was an attempt to “thwart Rhode Island Fast Ferry, Inc.’s entry into the Rhode Island intrastate high-speed ferry market.” Interstate and RIFF have been in an ongoing legal battle for the past several years, with Interstate and the town opposing RIFF’s proposed seasonal route to Block Island from Quonset.

According to the ruling, “Interstate Navigation Company’s December 10, 2018 application, which seeks Division approval under R.I.G.L. §39-3-15, to incur $8.5 million in debt for the purpose of constructing a new 500-passenger fast ferry, is hereby denied.

“2. That Interstate shall not add to or replace any of its existing high- speed vessels unless approved by order of the Division.

“3. That the Division’s Clerk is instructed to open a new docket designed to provide the Division with an opportunity to investigate the need and appropriateness of Interstate’s plans to replace the Athena with a larger high-speed ferry. During this investigation the Division will evaluate whether Interstate’s plans are designed to thwart Rhode Island Fast Ferry, Inc.’s entry into the Rhode Island intrastate high-speed ferry market; and if so, whether the Division should impose a moratorium on such plans to protect the public’s interest. The Division’s clerk is further instructed to notify Rhode Island Fast Ferry, Inc. of the establishment and purpose for this new docket.”

This is a developing story.