Report: R.I., Mass. lead Atlantic states in wind-farm development

Rhode Island has positioned itself as a leader in the offshore wind energy movement alongside Massachusetts, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation assessing offshore wind progress among Atlantic Coast states. More

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Report: R.I., Mass. lead Atlantic states in wind-farm development

BLOOMBERG FILE PHOTO/CHRIS RATCLIFFE
ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL Wildlife Foundation, half of the 16,000 megawatts of potential offshore wind power identified off the Atlantic Coast is located in the waters of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
Posted 7/10/14

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island has positioned itself as a leader in the offshore wind energy movement alongside Massachusetts, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation assessing offshore wind progress among Atlantic Coast states.

The report, “Catching the Wind: State Actions Needed to Seize the Golden Opportunity of Atlantic Offshore Wind Power,” found that more than 1.5 million acres off the coast have been designated for offshore wind power development, enough to produce more than 16,000 megawatts of electricity to more than 5 million homes.

Half of that potential electricity generation, 8,000 megawatts, is located off the shores of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and the two states have led the pursuit of offshore wind projects with Deepwater Wind’s proposed Block Island Wind Farm and the Cape Wind project planned for Massachusetts waters.

The Block Island project, a 30-megawatt offshore wind farm located entirely in Rhode Island, will power more than 17,000 homes annually, the NWF report stated. More than 165,000 acres of federal waters in Rhode Island Sound has been leased to Deepwater Wind for offshore wind development, an area with an estimated 3,000 megawatts of electricity generation potential.

“Climate change is one of the most significant threats of our time and wind can transform our energy future from dirty and costly to clean and viable,” said Tricia K. Jedele, vice president of the Conservation Law Foundation and director of CLF’s Rhode Island Advocacy Center. “Rhode Island has become the shining example of not just how to get renewable energy done, but how to do it right. We need Rhode Island’s continued leadership in developing offshore wind power for the future of our economy and for the health of our communities.”

The Conservation Law Foundation cosponsored the NWF report along with Environment Rhode Island, the Environmental Council of Rhode Island and similar organizations in other Atlantic Coast states.

Jedele joined other advocates in the NWF report in urging Rhode Island’s leaders to take the following actions to push forward offshore wind power in the state:

  • Set a bold goal for offshore wind power in Rhode Island’s energy plan.

  • Take action to ensure a competitive market for offshore wind power by passing and implementing policies to directly advance offshore wind power and reduce pollution across the electricity sector, pursuing regional market-building opportunities, and supporting key federal incentives.

  • Advance critical contracts for offshore wind projects, including facilitating and approving necessary power purchase contracts and rate recovery proposals and pursuing regional procurement opportunities.

  • Ensure an efficient, environmentally responsible leasing process, working closely with the federal government and key experts and stakeholders to ensure transparency, and strong protections for coastal and marine wildlife as offshore wind development moves forward.

  • Invest in key research, initiatives and infrastructure helpful for advancing offshore wind development including baseline environmental data, stakeholder engagement initiatives, opportunities to maximize local supply chain and job creation, and upgrades to transmission or port facilities.

“Rhode Island should be proud of the strides we have made to advance offshore wind power and the precedent-setting Block Island Wind Farm,” said Jamie Rhodes, president of Environment Council of Rhode Island. “Now is the time for decisive action, to take bold, responsible steps forward to advance a clean energy future that can protect our communities and natural resources from this urgent threat.”

To read the complete report, visit www.nwf.org.

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