Rhode Island officials discuss wind energy plans

Islanders can learn about which way Rhode Island’s wind energy plans may blow at a public meeting at 5:30 pm on Thursday, September 16, at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) officials Deerin Babb-Brott, assistant secretary for ocean and coastal zone management, and John Weber, planning manager of office of coastal zone management ocean, will join members of the Rhode Island (RI) Coastal Resources Management Council to discuss their offshore wind energy development process.

“This is one of two such meetings being held in the Commonwealth, and should be of great interest to public officials and the people of Dukes County for two reasons,” Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) executive director Mark London wrote in an email this week publicizing the event. “First, it could lead to the development of large-scale commercial wind energy development in Rhode Island, relatively close to Martha’s Vineyard and Gosnold.

“Secondly, they have collected and analyzed considerable data, which could help inform the decisions we will be making in Dukes County, or the federal government might be making in federal waters close to Martha’s Vineyard and Gosnold,” Mr. London said.

Rhode Island’s ocean-mapping project, formally called the R.I. Special Area Management Plan (SAMP), is evaluating environmental resources and human uses of R.I. and federal waters adjacent to southeastern Massachusetts, according to an EEA press release. The plan will be used to help identify potentially appropriate areas for offshore wind energy development.

Last month Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that commits both states to collaborate in permitting and developing offshore wind energy projects in an “area of mutual interest” in federal waters 12 miles southwest of Martha’s Vineyard.

Governor Patrick subsequently requested that Rhode Island conduct two public meetings in Massachusetts about the SAMP process, which will be held in Dartmouth next Wednesday and on Martha’s Vineyard on Thursday.

The two public meetings will provide information on how the RI plan will be used to assist Massachusetts in planning for offshore development, and how it relates to the MOU signed by both states, according to the EEA press release. A question and answer period will follow discussion.