PORTSMOUTH — Mayflower Wind officials are continuing efforts to run transmission cables through Portsmouth, and now locals suggest the town is in a position to benefit from the situation.
Mayflower Wind held a public engagement session with municipal stakeholders on Tuesday as part of its preliminary hearing with the State Energy Facility Implementation Committee approaches, sending Transmission Development Manager Lawrence Mott and General Counsel Daniel Hubbard to the Portsmouth City Council meeting to make a presentation and hear questions and comments from council and residents.
Many council members and residents asked questions and expressed concerns about the project, and although no immediate action was taken after the discussion due to the structure of the meeting’s agenda, council member Keith Hamilton indicated that he would present a resolution at the next council meeting on August 1st. 22 which “would allow the administration and the council the possibility of hiring experts and/or legal advice which they would need in the future, and also to ask certain things of the committee for the implementation of the energy facility at the ‘coming”.
Council Chairman Kevin Aguiar also said the City of Portsmouth had filed a notice of intervention with the state EFSB on July 11, which grants the city “intervenor status” at the hearing. Mayflower finale. The preliminary hearing, scheduled for August 18, allows for public observation, but not public comment.
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Peter Roberts, a Portsmouth resident who said he had worked on infrastructure projects requiring cables and similar drilling techniques in the past, said there should be no problem running the cable underwater to Somerset, Massachusetts, through the Sakonnet Basin and under the Sakonnet River Bridgerather than running the cable through several wetlands in the Island Park area.
Mott indicated that the company was not actively exploring this route as an option at this time, and clarified that the company’s preference to pass through Island Park was not associated with financial savings, but to concerns about boat traffic, debris from the old stone bridge and high tides. flow into the basin.
Ben Furriel of Gideon Lawton Lane was one of many residents who pointed out that Portsmouth were in a potentially strong negotiating position, as Mayflower wants to use Portsmouth for a project that does not bring immediate benefits to the town.
He suggested the city establish a timeline as a precursor to well-coordinated engagement with the proposal, and posed the idea that Mayflower would foot the bill for local STEM programming or some other type of direct benefit.
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Hamilton went further, suggesting the city opposes laying any cables until Mayflower and its backers work with Portsmouth to lay a second LNG pipeline at the north end of Aquidneck Island.
Hamilton was concerned that the island’s existing LNG line could be compromised by future installation or maintenance of proposed transmission cables, referring to a 2019 gas outage that left nearly 7,500 customers on the National Grid without heating for a week in January.
There is a precedent in the surrounding region where offshore wind companies pay municipalities far more than the cost of a science education program in order to gain access to a landing for transmission cables.
In Massachusetts, Avangrid Renewables recently signed an agreement to pay the city of Barnstable $16 million over 25 years in addition to business taxes to land transmission cables from the same lease lot where the Mayflower turbines will be built.
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At New York, South Fork LLC Deep Water Wind, whose parent companies are Ørsted and Eversource Energy, will pay the City of East Hampton $870,000 each year for 25 years, including a 2% increase after the first year. The total amounts to $28.9 million, including $100,000 in geotechnical access fees and permits already paid to the City.
According to a local report, the payout is almost four times the amount the developer first offered the city – $8 million – when talks began. The developer will also have to pay property taxes on its terrestrial infrastructure, estimated at an additional $4 million over the life of the project.
Hubbard, Mayflower’s solicitor, told council the company would pay tax directly on its facilities in Portsmouth and confirmed the company’s willingness to engage directly with the city administration to reach an equitable arrangement. .
Little Compton and Middletown Hire Law Firm, Seek Intervenor Status
While Portsmouth was able to immediately file notice of intervention as a directly affected party, Little Compton and Middletown filed motions to intervene. Mayflower Wind filed objections to each, on the grounds that the cables do not touch land in either city and that the waters they pass through when entering the Sakonnet from the Atlantic Ocean are controlled by the state and regulated by state agencies.
An early sign of Mayflower Wind’s commitment to positively impact Rhode Island’s economy, the company hired local law firm Partridge, Snow and Hahn to file its objections to the Middletown and Little Compton notices.
The EFSB has asked Middletown and Little Compton “to file memoranda of law explaining their respective positions with greater precision and detail, explaining how each of the towns’ interests identified in their respective motions to intervene may be directly and materially affected. “.
As each city submitted a list of concerns related to its decision to seek a seat at the table, the EFSB asked them to clarify why those concerns would not be adequately protected by the DEM and CRMC, the state agencies. that regulate and protect the waters of Rhode Island and coastal communities.
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Each city has filed the requested memoranda, and the EFSB will decide, after hearing arguments at the preliminary hearing, whether or not either municipality will be granted intervenor status.
The two towns have also retained the services of Desautel Law, a local firm specializing in environmental law, to represent their interests in the Mayflower Wind proposal before the EFSB. Tiverton, at a town meeting on Tuesday, also considered hiring a lawyer, but decided to table the discussion and wait to see how the public process unfolds.
Mayflower will hold a “digital open house” on August 16 at 6:30 p.m. to introduce the project to townspeople, and the public hearing at the EFSB premises in Warwick on the morning of Thursday August 18 will be open to the public and will be broadcast live from the EFSB website.