RI high court upholds wind power agreement

Posted July 01, 2011, at 9:20 p.m.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Rhode Island’s highest court has endorsed a power-purchase agreement between a proposed wind farm off the coast of Block Island and an electrical utility.

The state’s Supreme Court on Friday issued the decision supporting a deal approved last August by the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission.

The agreement between Deepwater Wind LLC and National Grid PLC, the state’s primary electrical utility, is a key step in the construction of a wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island.

Under the arrangement, National Grid will pay 24.4 cents per kilowatt hour for energy generated by developer Deepwater Wind’s five-turbine wind farm.

Two manufacturers, Toray Plastics (America) Inc. and Polytop Corp. filed court challenges targeting the deal. They said the wind farm did not meet the statutory requirements for state approval, arguing that the cost of the project meant it was not commercially viable.

Attorney Michael R. McElroy, who represents both Toray and Polytop, said his clients are disappointed with the ruling. He called the Public Utilities Commission approval “unreasonable” and said it would cost state electric rate payers about $400 million.

“This project will create only six permanent jobs, but we believe the huge additional electric costs it will impose, especially on businesses, will significantly discourage growth in Rhode Island’s sluggish economy, which is struggling to overcome a deep recession,” he said.

Deepwater Wind CEO William M. Moore said in a statement his company would proceed to the permitting and construction planning phases of the project.

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