First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Nears Completion
Deepwater Wind's five-turbine, 30MW wind project off the coast of Block Island will soon be America's first completed offshore wind farm – even sooner than planned.
CEO Jeff Grybowski told Bloomberg News that four of five turbines are fully installed and assembled, and that construction is ahead of schedule and on budget.
The 20-mile cable connecting Block Island with the mainland was completed in late June, providing the island with its first electrical and fiber optic connection ever. Contractors LS Cable and Durocher Marine installed a cable linking the wind farm facility with Block Island and four cable linkages between the five wind towers in July.
Following the installation of the turbines, technicians from GE will conduct the farm’s commissioning, a process that is expected to take several months.
Deepwater Wind says that some 300 local workers are involved in building the Block Island Wind project and that four Rhode Island ports are getting new business for its staging and construction.
Commercial operations at the farm are expected to begin in early November.
The firm is expected to gain approval for a second, much larger farm to feed electricity to the Long Island Power Authority, or LIPA. The authority is awaiting a new state master plan on offshore wind before a vote, and the decision is expected sometime next week; New York State's governor, Andrew Cuomo, has expressed support. Grybowski says that LIPA favors the wind farm over other proposals not on its environmental merits, but because it would actually be cheaper than fossil-fuel options.
ConEdison, LIPA, New York State and the New York Power Authority also have plans for a much larger farm off of the Rockaways, a 127-square-mile, 900 MW installation to feed power to New York City. If built, it would rival the wattage of a small nuclear plant, and would represent nearly 10 percent of the installed wind capacity off European shores today.
East Coast wind farm proposals have not always succeeded. The Cape Wind proposal off of Massachusetts failed last year after more than a decade of efforts to get it off the ground; its developers cited “extended, unprecedented and relentless litigation" by an advocacy group backed by billionaire industrialist Bill Koch.