Planning for no Cable, Just in Case (USA)

Echoing a recent exchange at the Island Energy Plan Committee, the Electric Utility Task Group discussed options for reducing island electricity costs should a cable from the Deepwater Wind Block Island project fall through.

Task group Chair Barbara MacMullan said that she didn’t think the town should limit itself to a stand-alone cable only. She pointed to a 1999 study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which concluded that the island could switch to a system of renewable energy generation that would be “a technically and economically feasible alternative for [the Block Island Power Company].”

MacMullan said that due to the rise in oil prices and the decrease in renewable technology prices the plan would make even more sense now. Task group member Bill Penn said he had worked on a financial model for a 2.5-megawatt solar array on a landfill in New Jersey. While that project ultimately did not go through, he said that his model could be applied to Block Island.

Task group member Everett Shorey said that the biggest problem with a renewables system is that if the town were to generate more than 40 percent of the power with alternative energy, unless there is significant storage, it causes problems.

The Raytheon Corporation is currently seeking a grant to fund a feasibility study for power storage on Block Island.

Deepwater update

Deepwater Wind Block Island liaison Bryan Wilson updated the task group and reaffirmed Deepwater’s commitment to delivering a transmission cable to Block Island.

Wilson read from the Joint Development Agreement between Deepwater and the state of Rhode Island, which stated “[Deepwater Wind] and the State through its [Office of Energy Resources] shall cooperate with and assist in arranging transmission from Block Island to mainland Rhode Island and to Block Island from mainland Rhode Island.”

Wilson also shared recently released maps of the proposed turbine sites for both the larger project in federal waters and the smaller project three miles to the South East of Block Island in state waters.

Wilson said that the smaller project has been shifted as much as possible to the south so as to limit the visual impact from historical structures near town.

Deepwater’s Spar Buoy is still undergoing modifications and will not be ready for deployment until early next year. Wilson said that the buoy, which collects a wide variety of wind data, is more critical to the larger project and the delay would not impact the smaller Block Island project.


BIPCo General Manager David Milner attended the meeting and answered questions about upgrading the island’s transmission lines.

Milner reported that BIPCo was waiting for a grant that would be decided in late spring before moving ahead with the upgrade.

MacMullan said BIPCo and the town should get the process moving with the Public Utilities Commission soon rather than wait to hear if BIPCo was awarded the grant. Milner said that while BIPCo has been waiting it has also been moving forward with parts of the upgrade that could be performed by BIPCo employees, such as replacing more than 200 telephone poles as well as some transformers.

The task group also has decided not to pursue a hydrogen generator for the island, after determining that the technology was not as far along as had been presented.

Read more: Block Island Times – Planning for no cable just in case

By Dan West (blockislandtimes)


Source: blockislandtimes, December 28, 2010