RI - Regulators push off vote on offshore wind farm
Rhode Island coastal regulators will wait another week before making a decision on a key approval for a large offshore wind farm proposed in ocean waters southeast of Block Island.
PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island coastal regulators will wait another week before making a decision on a key approval for a large offshore wind farm proposed in ocean waters southeast of Block Island.
The state Coastal Resources Management Council was set to decide Tuesday whether to certify that the South Fork Wind Farm complies with Rhode Island’s coastal policies, but after five hours of testimony from developers Orsted and Eversource in favor of the 132-megawatt project and from fishermen concerned about its impacts, the meeting was continued to June 2. At that time, the council will hear public comment and vote.
At issue is a package recommended by council staff to minimize potential negative impacts from the wind farm on the state’s fishing industry and marine habitat in the project area located in Rhode Island Sound. The proposed package includes a reduction in the number of turbines, from 15 to 12, and the creation of a $12-million fund, that would be paid into over 30 years, to compensate fishermen for any financial losses.
Although council staff recommended a conditional certification of the project if the developers agreed to the package – which they did – a board of fishermen that advises the council on offshore wind development came out against the mitigation proposal. A lawyer for the Fishermen’s Advisory Board described the final staff recommendation, which was updated after input from the developers, as a “backroom deal” that excluded the involvement of the board.