Construction underway for America’s first offshore wind farm 

Source: Elizabeth Harball, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Construction is officially underway for the first offshore wind farm in U.S. waters.

Offshore wind developer Deepwater Wind on Friday announced that its CEO, Jeffrey Grybowski, is meeting with Rhode Island leaders today in North Kingstown to celebrate early building activities on the Block Island Wind Farm, a planned 30-megawatt, five-turbine project located approximately 3 miles southeast of Rhode Island’s Block Island.

Deepwater Wind announced it had closed the financing of the Block Island project in March (ClimateWire, March 4).

“The Block Island Wind Farm remains on target to be the nation’s first offshore wind farm, with ‘steel in the water’ expected this summer off the coast of Block Island and the wind farm in operation in the fall of 2016,” the company said Friday in a news release.

Gov. Gina Raimondo (D), Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) are all expected to attend.

According to Deepwater Wind, the group is slated to tour the facilities of Specialty Diving Services, a marine construction and commercial diving company, where welders are making foundation components for the turbines. At the event, Deepwater Wind will provide details on the number of local jobs it expects will be created during the project’s construction.

Progress on Deepwater Wind recently pulled ahead of the embattled Cape Wind project proposed for Massachusetts’ Nantucket Sound. In January, two major utilities opted out of agreements to purchase power produced by the farm when the company failed to secure financing by the end of 2014 (Greenwire, Jan. 7, 2015). Cape Wind, which still advertises itself as “America’s first offshore wind farm” on its Facebook page, started development in 2001.

The United States lags significantly behind other regions of the world in offshore wind development; as of 2014, 74 offshore wind farms had been constructed in European waters, according to the European Wind Energy Association.