James O’Neill, Former Attorney General of Rhode Island
Rhode Island Coastal ResourcesFebruary 1, 2013Management CouncilOliver H. Stedman Government Center4808 Tower Hill RoadWakefield, RI 02879Re: Objection to Deepwater Wind Requested Waiver of Application FeeDear Sir/Madam,Please be advised that I respectfully request that my objection to Deepwater Wind’s request for waiver of application fee be recorded and be a matter of record in this matter. In addition to objecting to Deepwater’s requested waiver, I am also requesting that a public hearing be scheduled in order that the public be afforded the opportunity to be heard and to witness the process as CRMC considers Deepwater’s request. In September of 2012, Deepwater filed an application with CRMC seeking a Category B Assent relating to its proposed construction of an offshore wind farm located approximately three miles southeast of Block Island. The application specifically relates to the installation of a transmission cable in State waters. Traditionally, the fees attended for such application must be paid prior to the issuance of any assent by the Council. The required fees in question here total approximately $750,000. Deepwater elected not to render payment of fees upon submission of its application and has requested a credit for funds it alleges it contributed to a fund managed by the RI Economic Development Corporation. Significantly, Deepwater is not a public or quasi public entity, eligible for a waiver of filing fees by CRMC. Deepwater and its investors stand to earn an incredibly handsome return from their proposed project. Such return is partially due to the fact that National Grid will be compelled to pay 24.4 cents per kilowatt hour for power generated by the Deepwater project. Remain mindful that currently consumers pay about 7 cents per kilowatt hour. Coupling the aforementioned factor, with investment tax credits totaling approximately $55,000,000, which Deepwater stands to gain, it is abundantly clear that this is not simply a public works project designed to serve the consumers’ interests. CRMC has been placed in a uniquely awkward position as the “Joint Development Agreement” of January 2, 2009, initiated by the Economic Development Corporation and the Office of the Governor, designated Deepwater as a “preferred developer”. Essentially, the State handpicked the developer and through the JDA is postured to positively influence any outcome of the proposed project. It is arguable that the CRMC, being an agency of the Government of the State of Rhode Island, is equally obligated, under the JDA, to influence any outcome relative to the Deepwater project. While I have the utmost respect for the integrity of the Executive Director and staff as well as the Council itself, this is certainly a situation which presents “cause to pause”. It appears the Council is being used to justify a preordained result. The credibility of CRMC is of paramount concern. One must question how CRMC can accept and process Deepwater’s incomplete application, in violation of its own regulations. Transparency in Government is essential. If a Government agency, such as CRMC intends to entertain the request of a private developer to have $700,000 in application fees waived, the public has a right to know and hear arguments pertaining to same. Respectfully submitted, _____________________________________James E. O’Neil, Esq.Former Attorney General,State of Rhode IslandSpace for comments below. These are added directly by readers.
James O’Neill, EsquireAttorney O’Neill is a Former Attorney General of the State of Rhode Island.
DWW may still owe the State a considerable sum for scientific studies commissioned to the University of Rhode Island and completed.
This letter regarding a Waiver of Application Fee of $750,000 helped turn the table against Deepwater Wind’s request for a fee waiver. Deepwater has still not paid this fee nor any other fees to the State of Rhode Island to the best of our knowledge.