Little Compton: Move offshore power cables to Westport

Resolution calls for study into re-routing cables currently proposed for Sakonnet River

By Ted Hayes
Posted 2/16/23

Move the cables to Westport.

That was the word from the Little Compton Town Council last Thursday, which unanimously passed a resolution calling for the "exploration" of a plan to move offshore …

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Little Compton: Move offshore power cables to Westport

Resolution calls for study into re-routing cables currently proposed for Sakonnet River

Posted

Move the cables to Westport.

That was the word from the Little Compton Town Council last Thursday, which unanimously passed a resolution calling for the "exploration" of a plan to move offshore wind power cables from their current proposed route up the Sakonnet River and Portsmouth, to Route 88 in Westport.

Re-routing those cables through Westport, councilors wrote in the resolution drafted by council president Robert Mushen, would be a better fit, protect the fragile Sakonnet River ecosystem and "would carry none of the attendant risks of the current plan, and traverses an area relatively free of private residences or businesses."

SouthCoast Wind, which changed its name from the former Mayflower Wind earlier this month, is working to develop turbine farms off the islands that in total would generate up to 2,400 megawatts of power. If built out as designed, the farms would supply enough energy to power more than a million homes and businesses. Half of the power would run via submerged cables up the Sakonnet River, terminating at the former Brayton Point power station in Somerset. The other connection to land would be in Falmouth, Ma.

The resolution shares many points of a letter sent last month to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management by Tiverton resident Greg Vespe, of the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association.

"We believe that running an underwater cable in the Sakonnet River violates the Public Trust Doctrine in Rhode Island’s Constitution, which requires by 'all means necessary and proper by law to protect the natural environment' for Rhode Island waters," he wrote. "There is significant uncertainty about the ecosystem risk to the Sakonnet River fishery from the Mayflower cable. A land-based alternative cable route through Massachusetts will eliminate this risk to the Sakonnet River ecosystem and protect the rights of the Rhode Island people as guaranteed by the Rhode Island Constitution."

In the resolution, councilors noted that the Sakonnet River is heavily used for recreational and commercial fishing and boating, posited that high current subsea cables would "subject (the river's) ecosystems to unpredictable risks and damage,' and added that alternatives to the Rhode Island route have not been sufficiently explored. In addition, councilors wrote that the cables' intended destination is already in Massachusetts, and much of the energy that would be distributed by them would benefit residents of the Commonwealth.

Council members did not discuss the resolution prior to moving, seconding and voting on it.

 

 

 

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