Rhode Island wind farm proposal links port and shipbuilding investments

Rhode Island began operating its first five wind turbines in 2016 (Block Island Wind)

Posted March 17, 2023, 1:35 pm by

The Maritime Executive

As competition between major offshore wind developers to win approval for new projects continues, companies are looking to sweeten the pitch by highlighting the wider financial impact and with promises of investment in ports, shipbuilding and manufacturing if selected. In the latest example, Ørsted and Eversource, which already have a partnership developing two wind farms off the coast of Rhode Island, are looking to sweeten their bid to win the state’s latest wind power proposal.

“We’re answering Rhode Island’s call for more offshore wind with a proposal that builds on the foundation we’ve laid in the Ocean State with our significant investments in port infrastructure, workforce training and the local supply chain,” said Joe Nolan , chairman, president and chief executive officer of Eversource Energy. “Our latest offering leverages the unparalleled combination of our expertise in onshore, regional transmission together with Ørsted’s significant offshore capabilities.”

The companies’ joint venture is proposing the 884-megawatt Revolution Wind 2 project, which would be an additional wind farm within their existing federal lease that is being used to develop Revolution Wind 1. The companies lease an area about 15 miles south of Rhode Island, which will provide a total of 704 MW of wind power from the project, which is already underway. Construction is expected to begin later this year, and when completed in 2025, approximately 400 MW will be delivered to Rhode Island, with the remaining 300 MW going to neighboring Connecticut.

Revolution 1 will be the state’s first offshore wind farm, and companies are already investing in the state to support the development of that project, as well as South Fork Wind, which is also south of Rhode Island. Due to start operating this year, the 132 MW project, which has 12 turbines, will however power New York City.

Ørsted and Eversource are promising more than $2 billion in direct economic impact to Rhode Island if the state approves the second-phase project. Including additional investment in port improvements and shipbuilding. They say that if selected for Revolution Wind 2, they will invest $35 million to realize the Quonset Development Corporation’s vision for a regional offshore wind logistics and operations center at Quonset Point. Revolution Wind 2, they report, will enable the construction of two new crew transfer vessels in Rhode Island to serve Ørsted’s US portfolio, in addition to the five already built by Blount Boats and Senesco Marine as part of the Revolution Wind investment, while saying they are “planning other shipbuilding investments in Rhode Island to support the industry.”

Ørsted says it will open a new US engineering center in Rhode Island, creating approximately 75 new local engineering jobs in a state-of-the-art facility that will serve as Ørsted’s US engineering center of excellence. This will be in addition to $1 million invested in a training partnership and the development of the regional offshore wind foundation component manufacturing facility at ProvPort, which builds the foundation components for South Fork Wind.

The companies point to their efforts, saying they are ready to help Rhode Island continue to develop its own offshore wind chain. They point to the state’s legacy of commissioning the first five 6MW offshore wind turbines in 2016 to replace Block Island’s five diesel generations. That project powers 17,000 homes, with 10 percent of its power meeting Block Island’s needs and the rest going onshore in Rhode Island.
If selected for the new project, the joint venture, formed in 2016, says it will help continue building the U.S. offshore wind supply chain and support good-paying jobs and industry for Rhode Island.

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