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Saturday, June 2, 2018

Developers moving fast to get the OK for new offshore wind farms

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

Related imageProvidence-based Deepwater Wind notched another major project with the recent selection of its 400-megawatt, some 50-turbine wind facility to be built in the federal designated Wind Energy Area south of Newport, R.I.

The Revolution Wind project was chosen through a shared bidding process with Massachusetts.
Key details, such as cost, the power-purchase agreement, job creation, and work to be done in Rhode Island, will be revealed when Deepwater Wind files its contract with the Public Utilities Commission this summer.

“Over the coming months there will be a lot more information about this,” said Carol Grant, commissioner of the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER).

The recent announcement coincided with the award of an 800-megawatt wind facility to Vineyard Wind. The estimated 100-turbine project will be developed by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables of Portland, Ore.

It will be built in the same federally designated wind region between Block Island and Martha’s Vineyard. The projects have the combined capacity to power some 600,000 homes.


The coordination between Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the offshore wind bidding process went mostly unnoticed by the media.

Much of the attention leading up to the May 23 announcement focused on Massachusetts and its 2016 law to procure 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2027.

Grant said her office worked with Massachusetts on the bid-selection process from the start.

“People weren't paying attention to it but (Rhode Island) has been there from the beginning,” she said.

Grant said the state declined to jointly develop a single shared project with Massachusetts so that Rhode Island could negotiate an agreement with the developer that includes work and jobs in the state.

Deepwater Wind didn't respond to a request for comment.

But in the past 18 months, the renewable-energy developer has hyped its investment in New Bedford, Mass., where it opened an office in April 2017.

CEO Jeff Grybowski touted his company’s long-term commitment to the South Coast region of Massachusetts. So far, there has been little mention of Rhode Island’s role in Deepwater Wind’s development in the 164,750-acre federal Wind Energy Area.

In Deepwater Wind's bid to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, there are references to jobs and other benefits for Massachusetts and Massachusetts ratepayers.

“Deepwater Wind is putting ratepayers first by offering an entirely new vision for the development of offshore wind serving Massachusetts,” according to the bid document.

The Revolution Wind announcement moves Rhode Island closer to Gov. Gina Raimondo’s goal of procuring 1,000 megawatt of renewable energy from across New England by 2020. The total currently stands at nearly 300 megawatts.

If Revolution Wind receives state and federal approvals, Deepwater Wind plans to start construction by 2020 and be operational by 2023.

Grant said Revolution Wind will likely include Deepwater Wind’s proposal for hydroelectric “pumped storage” system in Northfield, Mass.

The location of the cable connection was redacted in Deepwater Wind’s bid. But the proposal does reference Brayton Point in Somerset, Mass., as a “shore landing” for the connection to the power grid. If so, the cable would run through Narragansett Bay and require a review by the Coastal Resources Management Council.

The transmission line would be developed by GridAmerica, a subsidiary of National Grid.
National Grid and electric utilities Eversource and Unitil were involved with the bid selections.

Deepwater Wind, the developer of the five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm, has other wind projects in various stages of development.

The South Fork Wind Farm consists of 15 turbines planned for the Wind Energy Area. It would deliver electrify 30 miles to East Hampton, N.Y., on the east end of Long Island. If all approvals and permits are fulfilled, construction on the South Fork project is expected to begin in 2021.

The 120-megawatt Skipjack Wind Farm off the coast of Maryland expects to submit its full application to regulators in 2019, start construction in 2021 and be on-line by 2022.