What has been seen as a relatively friendly competition for bragging rights has turned into a fight for jobs.
The battle site is the Quonset Business Park, where Cape Wind LLC has signed an option to lease land to stage the construction of its proposed 130-wind turbine energy project in Nantucket Sound.
The deal with the Quonset Development Corporation comes on top of a long-standing option that Deepwater Wind LLC has had to use Quonset as the staging area for both its demonstration project Block Island Wind Farm as well as its planned 200-turbine Deepwater One project in federal waters east of Block Island.
The contract with the QDC also would seem to be in conflict with the development of the $100 million state-financed New Bedford Marine Commerce Terminal, which is under construction and due to be completed by the end of the year. The number of jobs in play is not insignificant.
“The [QDC] board authorization for the lease option to Cape Wind included an estimated 50 to 100 jobs,” said Steven J. King, managing director of QDC.
Under the terms of the lease option to Cape Wind, which runs for 12 months, the wind energy company will pay Quonset $4,833 per month to hold two parcels, one of which is 11.6 acres for staging equipment at Quonset, and the other 2.2 acres at the Port of Davisville to be used for shipping equipment to the offshore site, said King.
If the lease is executed, Cape Wind will pay $229,000 per year.
“Quonset Point has been talked about over the years as being a regional hub for offshore wind-energy developments, and our office is excited about Quonset potentially being a hub, not only for Rhode Island projects, but for projects up and down the Northeast,” said Chris Kearns, chief of program development for the R.I. Office of Energy Resources.
Realizing that vision may not be far off, as Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm is on the brink of final approval in what’s been a five-year-long process.
“We expect to issue two permits, one for the Block Island Wind Farm and one for the cable transmission system [to the mainland], in mid-August,” said Michael Elliott, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project manager for the Block Island Wind Farm.
The 15 blades for the Block Island project have been manufactured and are being stored in Denmark, said company spokeswoman Meaghan Wims. In 2015, foundations will be installed in the water, and in 2016 the turbines and cables will be installed, she said.