The Town of Middletown is looking to protect the interests of its residents, businesspeople and visitors with a pending legal motion involving an offshore wind farm proposed by Mayflower Wind. #MiddletownRI
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Matt Sheley at (401) 842-6543 or firstname.lastname@example.org
MAYFLOWER WIND PROJECT
ATTRACTS ATTENTION OF MIDDLETOWN
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (JULY 21, 2022) – The Town of Middletown looks to be getting involved with the potential impacts on the community of another large-scale utility project.
Earlier this week, an attorney for the town acknowledged the community was in the process of filling a motion with the state Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) for intervener status for the Mayflower Wind project.
According to a company website, Mayflower Wind wants to build a 2,400 megawatt wind turbine farm more than 20 miles south of Nantucket and 30 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard to generate enough electricity to power close to 800,000 homes.
Middletown officials said because the transmission line linking the wind farm to the mainland is expected to run up the Sakonnet River and make landfall on the northeastern shore of Portsmouth, it could impact the scenic vistas, navigation of the waterway and recreational activities in town.
In response, town attorney Marisa Desautel said recently she is in the process of filing a motion for intervener status with the project. She said the deadline for motions to intervene is July 29.
The Town Council is expected to get a briefing on the matter at its Aug. 1 meeting in executive session because it deals with potential litigation, one of the exemptions to the state’s open meeting laws.
“We feel anytime there’s a project like this, whether it’s happening in Middletown or potentially impacting our residents, it’s important to stay directly involved,” Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown said. “It’s certainly better than the alternative of realizing too late that we should have had a seat at the table but didn’t.”
The town has been actively involved with a proposal to intensify the use of the Old Mill Lane natural gas facility in Portsmouth although technically the project is not within Middletown’s borders. Desautel has taken the lead there too, providing regular updates to the town and council about those plans.
In addition to the recreational and scenic impacts of the Mayflower Wind project, the town has concerns about the security of the potential transmission line itself.
Citing a May 2019 piece by ecoRI titled “Offshore Wind Cable Exposed at Block Island Beach,” the town noted similar power cables from the five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm has become exposed on several occasions at Crescent Beach on the eastern side of the island. This even though the ecoRI story indicated those cables were supposed to be buried four to six feet into the seafloor.
The story went onto indicate the exposure of the lines had been an issue for at least three years, going back to 2016. To shield the lines, the story said hard plastic shreds were put in to armor portions of the cable. At the time, the problems were blamed on subsurface bedrock and boulders as well as shifting sands.
Paperwork showed that Mayflower Wind Energy LLC submitted an application with the EFSB in late May. In it, Mayflower Wind asked for permission to put down transmission lines in Rhode Island to connect the 2,400 megawatt wind turbine generation farm in federal waters.
Two power lines would connect from the offshore wind farm and run underwater up the Sakonnet River and make landfall on the northeastern shore of Portsmouth. From there, the cables would run underground to the Mount Hope Bay, where they would continue underwater to a regional transmission system at Brayton Point in Somerset, Massachusetts.
Mayflower Wind bills the effort as “Powering New England’s Energy Future.” Company paperwork indicated the “clean energy” project would create 14,000 jobs and would result in a $115 million investment from Mayflower Wind in the economy and community. The company also said it would remove or eliminate 13 million metric tons of Greenhouse gases during the life of the project.
Brown said Middletown was a big believer in “green” energy and projects, but it was important to make sure those — and Mayflower Wind — were done right with minimal impacts to the community.
“We understand the need for green energy and definitely believe it is the way of the future,” Brown said. “Saying that, it would be unfair of us not to make sure this project meets all the criteria and doesn’t adversely effect the Town of Middletown, its residents, businesses and guests.”
Document Link: https://www.middletownri.com/DocumentCenter/View/5328/NYCU-Mayflower