Ocean Currents

Ocean Planning Spurs Offshore Wind in Rhode Island

The first offshore wind farm in the United States will begin construction (“steel in the water”) in late July 2015. The five turbine, 30-megawatt (MW) Deepwater Wind Block Island offshore wind project is a prime example of the great things that happen when we work together to plan for our ocean. Deepwater Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski and commercial lobster fisherman Bill McElroy talk ocean planning and wind development in the video above.

Thanks to a stakeholder-driven planning process, the Block Island offshore wind farm has become a reality in record time, with significant support from Rhode Island residents and businesses. The location of the Block Island project was informed by Rhode Island’s Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP). The Ocean SAMP is a state-led ocean planning process that brought together the people of Rhode Island, from fishermen to sailors to conservationists, and provided a pathway forward for the Block Island project to become a reality.

The Ocean SAMP:

  • Examined existing ocean conditions and then identified an area suitable for renewable energy projects and opportunities for conservation and mitigation.
  • Incorporated extensive stakeholder input, ranging from recreational and commercial fisherman, port operators, recreational users, renewable energy developers, to members of the general public.
  • Created efficiencies in state and federal permitting processes.

The Ocean SAMP benefitted both developers and stakeholders, like Bill, that have an interest in how development moves forward. Deepwater Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski estimates that the Rhode Island Ocean SAMP process saved years of permitting time for the Block Island project.

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