By Chris Barrett
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – Making good on a campaign promise, new R.I. Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is dropping a lawsuit seeking to halt a wind farm proposed off Block Island.
In a motion filed Friday, Kilmartin said that “after careful review” he is choosing not to move forward with the suit started last year by his predecessor Patrick C. Lynch, an environmental group and two manufacturers.
In filing the suit, Lynch sought to have the R.I. Supreme Court throw out a contact between wind farm developer Deepwater Wind and utility National Grid. Lynch at the time called the contract approved by the R.I. Public Utilities Commission “a sweetheart deal” for Deepwater Wind and National Grid.
Deepwater Wind wants to construct six to eight turbines off the Block Island coast and sell the electricity to National Grid, the state’s largest utility.
But Kilmartin never favored the suit. On his campaign website he called the wind energy a “cornerstone in Rhode Island’s energy future” and a way to create jobs. In court filings Friday, Kilmartin said simply that he “does not desire to pursue this matter.”
But other plaintiffs show no signs of leaving the case. On Friday, Toray Plastics (America) – a North Kingstown plastics maker – filed legal briefs in the case. Also remaining involved are Polytop Corp. – a North Smithfield plastics maker – and the Rhode Island chapter of the Conservation Law Foundation.
The manufacturers say that the utilities commission made an error in approving the contract because the electricity from the wind farm will cause energy prices to increase. The companies say that violates a goal to stabilize energy prices that the General Assembly articulated in a law governing the commission’s review process.
Meanwhile, the Conservation Law Foundation charges that the General Assembly – in creating the law that led to the decision – inappropriately favored Deepwater and all but compelled the commission to approve the proposed contract.
The court is expected to hear oral arguments this spring, but the case already has slowed Deepwater’s timeline. The company acknowledged last week that it is mulling a plan to that would push back construction to 2013. Previously, Deepwater had said it wanted the turbines operational by the end of 2012 in time to secure millions of dollars in federal tax incentives.