Deepwater Wind Files Final Federal, State Permits for Block Island Wind Farm

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Investing more than $7 million of private capital in conducting what it says is “the most thorough study ever conducted of a U.S. offshore wind farm,” Deepwater Wind announced it has submitted its final state and federal permit applications for the Block Island Wind Farm. Management is on a mission to build the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. in state Atlantic waters about three miles off Rhode Island’s Block Island, a proposed 30-megawatt (MW), $250 million project consisting of five Siemens 6-MW turbines that’s viewed as a stepping stone to much larger, more ambitious offshore wind power projects that management has on the planning board.

The permit applications were filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Dept. of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council — the three public agencies that have primary jurisdiction over the Block Island Wind Farm and its underwater transmission system — management stated in a press release.
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An Exhaustive Study of Offshore Wind Power’s Environmental Impacts and Power Production Potential

Dozens of experts were employed in carrying out the 3 years worth of environmental and engineering studies that went into producing Deepwater Wind’s final federal and state permit applications. Among others, included were biologists and ecologists with expertise in avian, marine mammal, and fish species and habitats, along with wetland scientists; marine archaeologists; electrical, civil, structural, acoustic, and marine engineers; architects; and statisticians. Deepwater Wind is majority-owned by New York’s D.E. Shaw with Boston’s First Wind owning a minority interest.

Exhaustive data were gathered using planes, ocean-going survey vessels, and remote-operated vehicles (ROVs) on the sea floor. For three years, the company also used “a high-tech avian radar system”on Block Island to collect data on bird populations, breeding, and feeding grounds and waters, as well as travel and migratory habits.

Field investigations were conducted on the island itself, as well as on the mainland coast. All of these efforts build on a groundbreaking data collection effort carried out by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council in producing the Ocean Special Area Management Plan, Deepwater Wind noted.

“We’re excited to share our findings,” said Deepwater Wind CEO William M. Moore. “The filing of our permit applications represents a significant milestone toward development of the groundbreaking Block Island Wind Farm.”

The Block Island Wind Farm is the first of a string of offshore wind farms Deepwater Wind plans to build off the U.S. Atlantic coast, CEO Moore told Reuters in an interview published Oct. 3.

A Stepping Stone to 1,000 MW of East Coast Offshore Wind Power

On management’s planning board are three other offshore wind power projects with a total rated capacity of 1,000 MW, each able to produce clean, renewable power sufficient to meet the needs of some 350,000 homes. The smaller Block Island Wind Farm is viewed as a stepping stone that will provide data and results very useful in carrying out the larger scale projects.

“With Block Island we are gaining real-time information on what it will cost to build the bigger project. That is a huge competitive advantage as we look to transition to the 1,000-MW (Deepwater Wind Energy Center) we are hoping to build in federal waters,” Moore told Reuters.

Management is hoping to be awarded the federal lease for the project, sited in Rhode Island Sound, south of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, in the 2013’s first quarter. Projected to cost more than $4 billion, the project will require 150-200 offshore wind turbines. They’re to be connected via cables to onshore power stations linked to both New England and New York.

“By being tied into two grids, we avoid the business risk of a single-point interconnection, and we get to move energy other than our wind power over the lines,” Reuters quoted Moore.

Supplying clean, renewable power to New York and New England falls right into line with regional efforts to completely revamp the region’s energy mix and infrastructure, a policy strategy centered on employing new renewable and clean energy sources. Pursuing such a strategy addresses a range of critical challenges faced by states across the region — notably, sustainable economic and job growth, as well as the need to reduce carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, and reduce environmental and ecosystems degradation.

Deepwater Wind has proposed building Hudson Canyon, a 1,000-MW offshore wind farm in Atlantic waters south of New York City. The clean, renewable electricity produced would go a good way toward replacing the possible loss of power supply from the 2,065-MW Indian Point nuclear power plant in the Hudson River Valley, Reuters notes.

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to shut Indian Point down when Entergy’s operating licenses leases for the nuclear power plant’s two reactors expire in 2013 and 2015. Entergy, for its part, is seeking new operating licenses from federal nuclear regulators that will keep the plant running for another 20 years.

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