First offshore wind farm in U.S. opens off Rhode Island
The nation’s first offshore wind farm has opened off the coast of Rhode Island, ushering in a new era in the U.S. for the industry.
Deepwater Wind built five turbines 3 miles off Block Island to power about 17,000 homes, a project costing about $300 million. It announced Monday that the wind farm has begun producing energy for the grid.
Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski calls the opening a momentous occasion that unlocks the code of how to do offshore wind in the U.S. at a crucial time when states are trying to figure out how to replace aging power plants.
“We’re more confident than ever that this is just the start of a new U.S. renewable energy industry that will put thousands of Americans to work and power communities up and down the East Coast for decades to come,” he said in a statement Monday.
Abigail Ross Hopper, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said the wind farm proves that offshore wind can happen safely and efficiently.
Deepwater Wind installed the wind farm over two years.
Many Block Island residents supported the wind farm as a way to drive down the island’s high energy costs, though some opposed it out of fear that the turbines would dramatically alter ocean views that both residents and visitors enjoy.
The wind farm is expected to supply about 30 megawatts of electricity annually. National Grid said that is more than enough to meet Block Island’s current demand and the excess will be redirected to mainland Rhode Island through a submarine cable.
The offshore wind industry is far more advanced in Europe.
Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo has said she wants Rhode Island to be the most collaborative and aggressive state in creating a supply chain for wind energy, to bring electricity costs down and to address climate change.