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By Chris Barrett
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – Joining an environmental group, Toray Plastics (America) and Polytop Corp. have appealed the approval of a contract between offshore wind farm developer Deepwater Wind and National Grid.
In papers filed Monday, the two plastics manufacturers jointly argue that the R.I. Public Utilities Commission erred in approving the contract because the price of electricity did not meet the “commercially reasonable” test spelled out in Rhode Island law.
Under the 20-year contract approved earlier this month, Deepwater would sell electricity to National Grid for 24.4 cents a kilowatt-hour with the price increasing 3.5 percent each year. In their appeal, Toray and Polytop argue that would translate into $370 million in above-market costs for electricity. The companies says those costs would more than outweigh the anticipated $129 million economic impact of the farm that a consultant for the R.I. Economic Development Corporation projected.
“The evidence demonstrates that the [contract] is likely to discourage economic development in Rhode Island, including discouraging new and existing business expansion and the further development at Quonset Business Park,” the appeal says.
Toray, which operates a plant at Quonset, said the contract would add $7.3 million to its electric bill during the life of the contract. Polytop in North Smithfield will pay $1.1 million extra.
“In exchange for these huge extra costs, Toray, Polytop and all other Rhode Island ratepayers will get absolutely nothing in return,” the appeal says. “In fact, Toray does not even buy its electricity from National Grid, but purchases it from a competitive supplier. The reason Toray has to pay the above-market cost is because the charges for this project by law are imposed on the electric distribution rate (the so-called ‘wire fee’) rather than the energy rate.”
Meanwhile, Toray and Polytop argued New Jersey-based Deepwater Wind would “profit handsomely” from the project.