Governor Donald L. Carcieri today announced that the State of Rhode Island is seeking bids from private companies to construct and operate an off-shore wind farm designed to generate 1.3 million megawatt-hours per year of renewable energy. The wind farm would be located in an area just south of Block Island.
The Request for Proposals (RFP), which was issued today by the Department of Administration, constitutes the next major step in the Governor's plan to expand dramatically the production and use of renewable energy in Rhode Island.
"Three years ago, I announced an ambitious plan to increase dramatically the production and use of renewable sources of energy in Rhode Island," Governor Carcieri said. "Every day, Rhode Islanders feel the financial pinch of heating and powering their homes. If we reach the goal I set of achieving 15% of our energy from wind, this burden will be relieved and we will reap long-term benefits for the environment."
"As you can imagine, creating significant sources of renewable energy does not happen overnight. Our Office of Energy Resources has been hard at work laying the foundation for success. We have conducted a detailed study on where wind farms can be located. We have hosted a number of meetings with stakeholders across Rhode Island to solicit public and local input," Carcieri said. "We recently signed an important agreement with Oceanlinx, so they can build a wave energy project in the waters off our shores and open a whole new source of renewable energy."
"Today, my administration is taking another major step towards our renewable energy goals by formally seeking bids from private companies to construct and operate a wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island," the Governor said. "At the same time, we will be continually reviewing input from stakeholders and reviewing scientific studies conducted by URI and the CRMC. Advancing all these efforts simultaneously will enable us to maintain steady progress toward our goals."
Under Governor Carcieri's plan, the state would review bids on the basis of total cost to Rhode Island ratepayers, the qualification and experience of the bidder in constructing wind projects, and the number of jobs and the amount of tax dollars to be created. The state plans to award a contract to the best bidder, who will then begin the process of seeking the necessary regulatory permits and conducting the necessary environmental and siting studies.
As part of the RFP, the state is also asking bidders to ensure that the Town of New Shoreham on Block Island benefit from the use of the electrical cable to the mainland that will be built to transmit the power being generated.
The Carcieri administration is also considering means to establish and administer long-term contracts with the wind farm owners to purchase the renewable energy being generated.
In June, 2007, the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources received the results of a report it had commissioned to determine the best locations for the development of wind energy projects. The report ranked ten sites according to the amount and cost of producible energy, whether or not the sites were in Federal or State waters, and the visibility of the projects from shore. Factors highlighted in the report would guide the selection of sites. Most importantly, the report projected that 15% of Rhode Island's average energy demand at a competitive cost could be achieved by establishing a wind farm using areas identified as J and K in the study.
City representatives, environmental organizations, local economic development organizations, commercial and recreational fishing interests, state government agencies, the U.S. Coast Guard, area university representatives, National Grid officials, consultants to the RI Office of Energy Resources, and others attended a series of four "energy stakeholder" meetings from August through September. They identified crucial issues in the development of wind farms and outlined next steps. The issuance of the Request for Proposals moves the process of developing this energy source to the next level and the State of Rhode Island closer to cleaner, less expensive electricity.
Governor Carcieri expressed his hopes for the project in this way, "Those who live in the Ocean State have always counted the ocean and coastline as blessings. Now we will be twice blessed by harnessing the immense power of ocean winds and waves."