"Deepwater's own testimony . . . is they said they'll create six jobs."

Patrick Lynch on Sunday, June 20th, 2010 in an appearance on Newsmakers


Patrick Lynch says Deepwater Wind's Block Island project will only create six jobs

Deepwater Wind's proposed eight-turbine wind farm off Block Island has been both praised and lambasted on economic grounds. Attorney General Patrick Lynch has been one of the project's staunchest foes, citing a number of reasons. One of them: the promise of new jobs has been overblown.

"Deepwater's own testimony, at the PUC, after a seven-month hearing, publicly held at the forum that the governor chose, is they said they'll create six jobs," Lynch said during a June appearance on the "Newsmakers" television program when he was running for governor.

Lynch dropped out of the race July 15. We filed his statement while we focused on candidates who were still running in the primary. But we decided it was still interesting enough to examine now.

In general, PolitiFact doesn't check predictions. But we can check whether Deepwater itself said that only six jobs would be created.

When we asked for the source for that claim, the attorney general's office directed us to written answers to questions posed a year ago to Deepwater by the state Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, which carries out the policies of the PUC and is responsible for representing consumers during PUC hearings.

The key answer about jobs came from William Moore, CEO of Deepwater Wind. Here's a portion of the response:

" . . . we anticipate that the Block Island Wind Farm will generate between 35 and 50 direct local construction period jobs, and possibly more if assembly operations are performed at Quonset, an option Deepwater Wind is currently investigating. Further, we estimate that post-construction, operation and maintenance of eight turbines making up the facility will require approximately 6 permanent full time equivalent jobs."

So Deepwater is saying there will be six full-time positions to maintain the eight wind turbines. Lynch was correct.

But Lynch was also being too selective.

A state's economic health relies on temporary jobs as well, and it's misleading to ignore the benefits of temporary construction jobs. Deepwater -- which Lynch himself cites as a credible source when it comes to the "6 jobs" number -- is also promising at least 35 short-term construction jobs.

And that's only for the Block Island Wind Farm portion of the project, planned as the first phase. If the much larger project of 100 wind turbines is ultimately built, it would mean even more jobs, both long-term and construction jobs. Deepwater is predicting at least 600 jobs associated with building those turbines at Quonset Point and many more indirect jobs.

Our Truth-O-Meter can't predict the future, so we don't know if the jobs estimates being projected by either Lynch or Deepwater are correct, whether the wind farm will -- as some experts have predicted -- actually cost the state jobs by driving up the cost of electricity, or whether fossil fuel prices will someday make Rhode Islanders glad they invested in the small- or large-scale offshore wind farms.



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