- Long-standing opponents of the already under-construction Block Island wind project, which will be the first utility-scale U.S. offshore wind installation, filed suit in the U.S. District Court in Providence alleging the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (PUC) violated federal laws governing wholesale electricity markets when it approved the project’s power purchase agreement (PPA) in 2010.
- The 30 MW, five turbine installation off the coast of Rhode Island’s Block Island being developed by Deepwater Wind began construction this summer. Its 20-year PPA calls for all the output to go to National Grid, one of New England’s biggest electricity suppliers, at $0.244 per kWh.
- The suit alleges the PUC violated Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) jurisdiction over wholesale electricity markets in approving the PPA. The plaintiffs are led by the Rhode Island Manufacturers Association and its member Toray Plastics, which is the biggest single electricity user in the state.
Toray failed in several efforts to have the PPA voided because of the much higher than retail electricity price, but the contract was judged legal in a 2011 state Supreme Court case.
Other plaintiffs in the suit are Benjamin Riggs, a retired manufacturing executive, and Laurence Ehrhardt, a North Kingstown Republican who served in the Rhode Island House of Representatives from 2005 to 2012. Both have long objected to the wind project because of the PPA price, which is over twice Rhode Island’s current average retail electricity rate and will escalate 3.5% per year.
Riggs filed petitions with the FERC in 2012 and last year alleging the state regulator’s approval had violated interstate commerce rules and other federal laws. FERC did not rule on the petitions and advised him they would require legal action.
The legal maneuvers against Block Island echo those that hampered and evenutally halted Massachusetts' ambitious Cape Wind project.