Quantcast
Business

America's First Offshore Wind Farm Breaks Ground

America's smallest state claimed a big spot in the country's renewable energy development history. Monday Deepwater Wind broke ground on the country's first offshore wind project, which will be built at Block Island, Rhode Island. The five turbines will produce 30 megawatts of power, enough to provide electricity to all the homes and businesses on the island as well as send power to the mainland through an undersea cable. The project, which will be operative next year, is expected to create 300 construction jobs.

There are thousands of offshore wind turbines in northern Europe, but the new wind farm in the ocean off Rhode Island will be the first in the U.S.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

“The importance of this day cannot be overstated," said Emily Norton, director of the Massachusetts chapter of the Sierra Club. “The Block Island Wind Farm is our Apollo 11 moment. I am going to remember this day, and tell my kids and grandkids that I was there when the first U.S. offshore wind farm was built—that when we had a choice between bequeathing them a future powered by polluting fossil fuels that lead to extreme storms, heat waves and drought, we chose to power their future from the wind and the sun and smart technologies.”

The Sierra Club was one of a number of groups that lobbied for the project, including the National Audubon Society, National Wildlife Federation and labor unions, when it was first proposed in 2009. They helped mitigate concerns that construction could disrupt whales and other marine life and that the turbines could be a threat to seabirds.

Numerous officials and supporters were on hand for the Monday groundbreaking. They included Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a passionate advocate for clean energy who has made a weekly floor speech in the Senate on the climate under the banner "Time to Wake Up" for two and a half years.

“The Block Island Wind Farm will bring cleaner and more affordable energy to Block Island’s residents while helping Rhode Island access the tremendous economic and environmental potential of our offshore wind,” said Sen. Whitehouse when the project was cleared to begin. “It’s a milestone in our nation’s transition to a clean energy economy, and I’m proud that Rhode Island is leading the way.”

"Not only are we going to create jobs, but we're going to rebrand ourselves as being more innovative and over time make Rhode Island a place that has lower energy costs, more diversified energy supply and greener energy," said Gov. Raimondo at the groundbreaking.

The project is small compared to the offshore wind farms that are abundant in northern Europe, but clean energy advocates hope the construction of the Rhode Island farm will create some momentum. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has opened nearly 750,000 acres of ocean to offshore wind development, designating it as a wind management area, with the potential to create up to 9,000 megawatts of electricity enough to power 700,000 homes by 2030.

Yet until now, that development has been stalled. The Cape Wind Project in Massachusetts has been embattled for more than a decade. Among those fighting it is billionaire Bill Koch, who lives on Massachusetts' Nantucket Sound and is co-chair of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. His brothers are fossil fuel barons and major political funders of climate denier politicians and initiatives Charles & David Koch. While the project was ultimately given the go-ahead, despite court challenges, the two utilities that had power purchase agreements with the project withdrew them in January. That project was expected to the first in the country, but now Rhode Island has beaten it to the punch.

“We are proud to celebrate breaking ground on the nation's first offshore wind farm in Rhode Island as it brings local, clean power to all Block Island residents and 300 new jobs to the community,” said Bruce Nilles, senior campaign director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign.

“However, this celebration is about something bigger: it highlights the nation's transition beyond dirty, outdated fossil fuels to affordable clean energy. This is a shining example of how American ingenuity can take us forward and position us as leaders in the global clean energy economy. Today on Block Island, we again prove that America can be a leader in creating a clean energy reality that ensures every person can breathe clean air, enjoy clean water and live in a world free from the threat of climate disruption.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Offshore Wind Trumps Offshore Drilling in Job Growth and Energy Generation

UK Wind Power Smashes Records As Scotland Eyes Fossil-Free Future

Wind Could Be Leading Source of Electricity by 2050, Says U.S. Dept. of Energy Report

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Animals
Mom and baby West Indian manatees in Three Sisters Springs, Florida. James R.D. Scott / Getty Images

Florida Manatee: 10% of Population Could Be Wiped Out This Year

2018 has not been a good year for Florida's iconic manatees. A total of 540 sea cows have died in the last eight months, surpassing last year's total of 538 deaths, according to figures posted Monday by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

The figure will likely climb higher before the year's end amid the state's ongoing toxic algae crisis. The red tide in the state's southwest is the known or suspected cause of death for 97 manatees as of Aug. 12, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission recently reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Health
SOPA Images / Getty Images

Walmart Joins Ranks of Retailers Pulling Toxic Paint Strippers From Shelves – When Will EPA Follow Suit?

By Sarah Vogel

Monday, Walmart announced that it will stop selling paint strippers containing methylene chloride or N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP) in stores by February 2019—making it the first general merchandise retailer to take such action. Walmart's announcement follows the strong leadership demonstrated by Lowes, Home Depot and Sherwin Williams, all of which have committed not to sell methylene chloride- and NMP-based paint stripping products by the end of the year. Importantly, Walmart's action goes beyond its U.S. stores, including those in Mexico, Canada and Central America, as well as their online store.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
Seal #108, left, and a small pup named "Premie" swim up to the edge of their pool for their 3 p.m. feeding at the Marine Mammals of Maine rehabilitation center on Aug. 14. Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

New England Seal Die-Off Could be Linked to Chemical Pollution

Researchers think a mysterious die-off of seals along the Maine coast could be linked to chemical pollution, the Portland Press Herald reported Sunday.

More than 400 dead or stranded seals have washed up on the Maine coast so far this year, more than in any of the past seven years, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) statistics.

Keep reading... Show less
Renewable Energy
Looking towards Livadia harbour on the Greek island of Tilos. Getty Images

Greek Island to Be First in Mediterranean to Power Itself With Only Wind and Solar

The Greek island of Tilos is set to be the first in the Mediterranean to power itself entirely with wind and solar power, The Associated Press reported Sunday.

The final tests of a new system that will allow the island to power itself with batteries recharged by a solar park and 800-kilowatt wind turbine are taking place this summer, and the system is expected to go live later this year.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Oceans
Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

Please Stop Flushing Your Contact Lenses

Contact lenses may appear harmlessly soft and small, but a big chunk of American users are improperly disposing their used lenses and adding to the planet's microplastic problem, Arizona State University researchers found.

In a survey of 409 wearers, about 1 in 5 responded that they flushed their used lenses down the toilet or sink instead of throwing them in the trash, according to a new study presented at the American Chemical Society's National Meeting and Exposition.

Keep reading... Show less
Health

Cell Phones in Schools? France Says No, San Francisco Educators Urge Caution

By Olga Naidenko

As the school year begins, the movement to exercise caution in students' use of cell phones and other wireless devices is gaining international momentum.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Climate
Breakthrough

'We Are Climbing Rapidly Out of Humankind's Safe Zone': New Report Warns Dire Climate Warnings Not Dire Enough

By Jon Queally

Offering a stark warning to the world, a new report out Monday argues that the reticence of the world's scientific community—trapped in otherwise healthy habits of caution and due diligence—to downplay the potentially irreversible and cataclysmic impacts of climate change is itself a threat that should no longer be tolerated if humanity is to be motivated to make the rapid and far-reaching transition away from fossil fuels and other emissions-generating industries.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
Pxhere

Trump Power Plant Plan Will Significantly Increase CO2 Pollution

The Trump administration is expected on Tuesday to propose a major rollback of the Clean Power Plan, President Obama's signature climate policy.

The replacement will relax rules for coal-fired plants and will very likely increase air pollution and planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!