Rhode Island Wind Farm Proposal Links Port and Shipbuilding Investment

investments tied to wind farms
Rhode Island began operating its first five wind turbines in 2016 (Block Island Wind)

Published Mar 17, 2023 1:35 PM by The Maritime Executive

As the competition continues among the major developers of offshore wind projects to win approval for new projects, the companies are seeking to sweeten the offering by highlighting the broader financial impact and with promises of investments in ports, shipbuilding, and manufacturing if they are selected. In the latest example, Ørsted and Eversource, which already have a partnership developing two wind farms off the Rhode Island coast, are seeking to sweeten their offer to win the state’s latest wind solicitation.

“We’re answering Rhode Island’s call for more offshore wind energy with a proposal that builds upon the groundwork we’ve laid in the Ocean State with our significant investments in port infrastructure, workforce training, and the local supply chain,” said Joe Nolan, Chairman, President and CEO of Eversource Energy. “Our latest proposal harnesses the unmatched combination of our onshore, regional transmission expertise together with Ørsted’s considerable offshore capabilities.”

The companies’ joint venture is proposing an 884-megawatt Revolution Wind 2 project that would be an additional wind farm within their existing federal lease which is being used to develop Revolution Wind 1. The companies hold a lease for an area about 15 miles south of Rhode Island which will provide a total of 704 MW of wind energy from the project that is already underway. Construction is expected to start later this year and when completed in 2025 approximately 400 MW will be supplied to Rhode Island with the remaining 300 MW going to neighboring Connecticut.

Revolution 1 will be the state’s first utility-scale offshore wind farm and the companies are already investing in the state to support the development of this project as well as South Fork Wind, which is also south of Rhode Island. Due to start operations this year, the 132 MW project which has 12 turbines however will supply New York with power. 

Ørsted and Eversource are promising more than $2 billion in direct economic impact to Rhode Island if the state approves the second phase project. Including further investments in port improvements and shipbuilding.  They are saying if they are selected for Revolution Wind 2 they will invest $35 million to realize Quonset Development Corporation’s vision for a Regional Offshore Wind Logistics and Operations Hub at Quonset Point. Revolution Wind 2 they report would enable the construction of two new crew transfer vessels in Rhode Island to serve Ørsted’s U.S. portfolio, on top of the five already being built by Blount Boats and Senesco Marine as part of the Revolution Wind investments while also saying they are “planning other shipbuilding investments in Rhode Island to support the industry.”

Ørsted says it will open a new U.S. Engineering Hub in Rhode Island, creating roughly 75 new local engineering jobs in a state-of-the-art facility that will serve as an Ørsted engineering center of excellence in the U.S. This would be in addition to $1 million invested in a training partnership and the development of the regional offshore wind foundation component manufacturing facility at ProvPort, which is building the foundation components for South Fork Wind.

The companies point to all of their efforts saying they are ready to help Rhode Island continue to develop its homegrown offshore wind supply chain. They point to the state’s heritage of having in 2016 commissioned the first five 6 MW offshore wind turbines to replace the five diesel generations on Block Island. That project powers 17,000 homes with 10 percent of its power meeting Block Island’s needs and the remainder going onshore in Rhode Island. 
If chosen for the new project, the joint venture which was established in 2016, says it would help to continue to build the American offshore wind supply chain and support well-paying jobs and industry for Rhode Island.