No Deepwater cable in Narragansett

Fri, 08/09/2013 - 4:30pm

An electric transmission cable from a wind farm proposed by Deepwater Wind will not run through Narragansett, R.I.

On Friday, Aug. 2, Deepwater Wind  notified the Town of Narragansett that it was withdrawing its cable application with the town, according to Deepwater CEO Jeff Grybowski. On Monday, Aug. 5, Deepwater made public the announcement of the withdrawal. That same Monday evening, the Narragansett Town Council unanimously denied the application at its meeting. It is unknown at this time where the cable will be installed.

“People in the town made it clear that the beach is not for sale,” Narragansett Town Councilor Matthew Mannix told The Block Island Times. He estimated that about 40 people had attended the Monday night meeting.

Deepwater had asked for a submarine transmission cable to make landfall at Narragansett Town Beach, and follow an onshore route to a new switchyard in the town. The cable is part of a five-turbine wind farm project proposed off the coast of Block Island. Deepwater had offered the town of Narragansett $2.25 million for the cable placement.

Council President Susan Cicilline-Buonanno placed on the Aug. 5 council agenda an item to deny Deepwater’s request. Deepwater announced earlier that day that it was withdrawing the application to the town. The Narragansett Town Council, in a gesture that was symbolic at that point, voted 5-0 to deny it.

I think that they [the council] were very deliberate in their actions,” Narragansett resident Myron Waldman, who attended the meeting, told The Block Island Times. “They did not have to entertain this motion.” Waldman is treasurer of the Political Action Committee (PAC) DeepwaterResistance. Although the PAC was recently formed to primarily oppose Deepwater’s application in Narragansett, Waldman said the group will continue its efforts to oppose the project as a whole and added that it was significant that the council vote was “unanimous.”

“This is not the end — this is the beginning,” Waldman said. “There are other communities that could end up being in the same boat as Narragansett was. We want to be able to help them if Deepwater does choose to bring their application through, especially to some state facility like Quonset [in North Kingstown] or the Bay Campus [part of the University of Rhode Island in Narragansett].”

Cicilline-Buonanno did not return calls to The Block Island Times for comment by press-time.

Councilor Mannix said that after doing research and listening to the public opinion, “it became clear to me that it’s a bad project.”

He said that the fact that Deepwater will not run its cables through the town is “a big victory for Narragansett. The people came forward, and they provided us feedback for the last two months.”

Mannix added that even though the town could have received $2.25 million, there would be significant costs associated with the project. He said these costs would include increased electric rates and having to dig up town roads.

“We had not quantified what the costs to Narragansett were going to be,” Mannix told The Block Island Times. He also said that Deepwater had given no indication if it had alternative plans to lay the cable elsewhere. “It made it difficult — we had only our site to look at,” he said. “I don’t know what Deepwater will do next.”

Deepwater CEO Jeff Grybowski said in a statement: “We’re continuing to explore alternative routes for the cable that will connect Block Island to the mainland, and we remain confident we’ll find a suitable location. While we believed that Narragansett Town Beach was a good option, it was never the only location we considered. We plan to bury the cable beneath existing roadways, with little to no impact on the general public. We’ll make our cable plan public once it is further defined.”