WARWICK, R.I. — Completion of Rhode Island’s wind project, Deepwater Wind Block Island Wind Farm, is not just significant because it’s the first. It’s important because Rhode Island has strong requirements to ramp up renewable energy as well as laws that require utilities to sign long-term contracts to buy wind power.
How the project got accomplished brings officials from across the country to Warwick this week for the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) national Offshore WINDPOWER conference. They are congregating to learn what they can from the construction of the five-turbine offshore wind farm.
For example, California is one of the most aggressive states in terms of renewable requirements and has a 100-turbine offshore project in development. But, David Hochschild, commissioner with the California Energy Commission, said that everyone is following Rhode Island’s lead.
“You do not have to be a big state to make a big difference…We’re trying to catch up with you guys,” Hochschild said at the conference.
AWEA reported an increase in the number of attendees and exhibitors at the annual offshore wind energy conference.
The completion of the Block Island Wind Farm is far more than just a ribbon-cutting – it is the dawn of an entirely new source of U.S. energy. Thanks to strong political leadership, strong policies and an innovative industry, we’re seeing a pathway forward for offshore American wind power,” said Tom Kiernan, AWEA’s chief executive officer.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has 11 areas off the East Coast offered for lease to developers. The agency will issue additional leases off the coasts of New York and North Carolina next.
The waters off New England offer the greatest capacity for offshore wind turbines–greatest in the amount of time they can operate at full power. The region also has the largest energy demand in the country.
Rhode Island wind proponents, like Ocean State Governor Gina Raimondo, are proud to be the “first with steel in the water and blades over the ocean.” Block Island Wind will produce 125,000 MWh per year, avoiding 121,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in equivalent resources from combustion energy.