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By Rhonda Miller
PBN Staff Writer
By Rhonda Miller
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – National Grid has submitted a proposal to the R.I. Division of Public Utilities and Carriers to construct the transmission system for the Deepwater Wind Block Island Wind Farm, instead of purchasing the completed system from Deepwater Wind as in previous plans.
National Grid has also proposed paying Deepwater Wind $9.5 million for assets already invested in developing the transmission system, which will include the underwater cable system from Block Island to the mainland. Deepwater supports the proposal.
According to a 105-page document from National Grid President Timothy F. Horan submitted to PUC Administrator Thomas Ahern on March 13, “this approach was different from the original proposal, whereby Deepwater and National Grid would attempt to negotiate an agreement providing for Deepwater to construct the transmission facilities and sell the facilities to National Grid when completed.”
In the document, Horan said discussions on the new option began in summer 2012 because “negotiations of the original sale proposal reached an impasse earlier in 2012 around the purchase price and National Grid’s role in the construction of the transmission facilities.”
“We don’t have a signed agreement with Deepwater Wind, this is a notice of intent,” National Grid spokesman David Graves told Providence Business News on Thursday. “We have been talking to Deepwater Wind for several months about taking over the right to construct the cable and we felt we were at a point in the discussions to notify the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers where we stood, and that’s the document we filed on March 13.”
The proposal said National Grid “… and its affiliates are in the business of constructing transmission projects and, specifically, have experience with constructing submarine cables.”
“We have two transmission lines that run from Nantucket to Cape Cod. We also have underwater projects on the north shore in Massachusetts,” said Graves. “We have extensive experience in the area of underwater cable construction, maintenance and operation.
“Because we are the primary electric utility company in Rhode Island, and we have the expertise, we feel it’s extremely important we take on the project so the people of Rhode Island know it’s going to be done successfully.”
The proposal points out that Deepwater Wind’s expertise is in wind-farm development.
"For some time, we have publicly discussed the possible benefits of National Grid owning and operating the new transmission link between Block Island and the mainland, while Deepwater Wind owns and operates the wind farm,” Deepwater Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski said in an email to Providence Business News Thursday. “National Grid's filing outlines the benefits of this arrangement and we support the filing.”
The Narragansett-based political action committee Deepwater Resistance supports the proposal for the transmission system to be constructed by National Grid, PAC Chairman Robert Shields told Providence Business News.
“This change is what we’ve been advocating for months, because we believe Deepwater Wind is not capable of doing the job right,” said Shields. “Now we want to make sure there’s a public hearing on turning over the cable transmission project to National Grid.”
A public hearing will be held on the proposal, said Graves.
The proposed agreement between National Grid and Deepwater Wind includes transfer of all permits for the project.
National Grid asked the PUC to approve the proposed agreement within the required 20-day time limit.
To view the 105-page document National Grid submitted to the PUC, visit www.ripuc.org.