State officials to discuss Mass-RI wind energy plan

Discussion that began at a public hearing last month about Rhode Island’s Ocean Special Management Plan (RIO-SAMP) resumes at a meeting on October 21 hosted by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA). The meeting starts at 5 pm at the Oak Bluffs Library.

The meeting is the first in a series to be held in collaboration with the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC).

EEA assistant secretary for ocean and coastal zone management Deerin Babb-Brott and ocean planning manager John Weber will join officials from the Rhode Island (RI) Coastal Resources Management Commission for an in-depth presentation about the RIO-SAMP. The meeting will include presentations and a question and answer session on bird and commercial fishing data.

State officials plan to request additional input and data, as available, from Martha’s Vineyard stakeholders.

The SAMP recently became a factor in Massachusetts’ effort to spur wind energy development when Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and RI Gov. Donald Carcieri signed a memorandum of understanding on July 26.

The governors agreed that both states would collaborate in the process to permit and develop offshore wind energy projects in a designated area of mutual interest (AMI) in federal waters. The AMI covers 400-square miles in Rhode Island Sound beginning 12 miles southwest of Martha’s Vineyard and extending 20 miles westward toward Block Island.

“It’s important Martha’s Vineyard understands this whole area of mutual interest will be governed by the Rhode Island SAMP,” MVC executive director Mark London said. “It will be the guiding document for what might be the first development for wind energy after Cape Wind.”