In a major advancement for the Block Island Wind Farm, Deepwater Wind has received the first major environmental permit approvals needed to begin deployment of this path-breaking project.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) issued Deepwater Wind Water Quality Certificates, deeming the Block Island Wind Farm and Transmission System in compliance with state water quality regulations and the Clean Water Act. These regulations ensure the protection of fish and wildlife, as well as the recreational use and navigation of Rhode Island inland and coastal waters. In addition, RIDEM issued the project a Freshwater Wetland permit for certain onshore construction activities.
“The approval of RIDEM is a major step forward for the Block Island Wind Farm. Momentum for the project is strong and we are moving closer to having ‘steel in the water,’” said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski. “We appreciate RIDEM’s thoughtful consideration of this project, and we’re confident that we’ll soon secure the remaining state and federal permits. We are proud to be leading the growth of this new American industry here in Rhode Island.”
Deepwater Wind must next secure an assent from the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, as well as approvals from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Each permit application has undergone extensive review and public comment. Deepwater Wind expects to secure all remaining permits this spring.
The RIDEM issued Water Quality Certificates for the Block Island Wind Farm and the Block Island Transmission System. The approval comes as part of the requirements of Section 401 of the Federal Clean Water Act, which requires the State of Rhode Island to certify projects such as dredging, filling, water withdrawals, and site disturbances. While reviewing projects, the RIDEM often coordinates with federal and state agencies and other RIDEM programs.
The RIDEM held extensive public comment on Deepwater Wind’s application, first submitted in September 2012: Public comment notices were issued on December 3, 2012, April 10, 2013, and November 7, 2013. Public hearings were conducted on April 24, 2013 in Narragansett, R.I., on May 8, 2013 on Block Island, R.I., and again on December 11, 2013 in Narragansett.
The RIDEM certificate includes a number of stipulations, including provisions to protect important marine species, ensure compliance with environmental and safety standards, and to require appropriate installation methods for the buried submarine cable.
Deepwater Wind has begun the initial stages of construction on the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm, located about three miles off the coast of Block Island. The project remains on target to be the nation’s first offshore wind farm, expected to be in operation in 2016.
Earlier this year, Deepwater Wind selected Alstom as its Block Island Wind Farm turbine supplier and long-term maintenance and service provider. This month, Deepwater Wind received delivery of 15 wind turbine blades from Alstom in Denmark.
The products and services herein described in this press release are not endorsed by The Maritime Executive.