Block Island offshore wind farm starts commercial operation

Written by Nick Blenkey
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DECEMBER 13, 2016 — America’s first offshore wind farm is up and running. Deepwater Wind reported yesterday that the Block Island Wind Farm has completed its commissioning and testing phases and has begun commercial operations, delivering electricity into the New England region’s grid on a regular basis.

The energy produced from the Block Island Wind Farm is linked to the New England grid by National Grid’s new sea2shore submarine transmission cable system.

“Rhode Island is proud to be home to the nation’s first offshore wind farm – and I’m proud to be the only governor in America who can say we have steel in the water and blades spinning over the ocean,” said Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “With this project, we’ve put hundreds of our local workers to work at-sea and at our world-class ports and are growing this innovative industry. I applaud Deepwater Wind for leading the way.”

“Our success here is a testament to the hard work of hundreds of local workers who helped build this historic project, and to the Block Islanders and the thousands more around the U.S. who’ve supported us every step of the way of this amazing journey,” said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski.

Prior to Block Island officially coming on line, technicians from GE Renewable Energy, which supplied the project’s five offshore wind turbines, put the wind farm through its paces during a four-month testing period. The project’s crew transfer vessel, the Rhode Island-built Atlantic Pioneer, transported technicians to the wind farm around the clock.

The two-year offshore installation of the wind farm was completed on-time and on-budget. More than 300 local workers helped develop, build and commission the historic project. Deepwater Wind utilized four separate Rhode Island port facilities – ProvPort, Quonset Point, Galilee and Block Island – to complete the wind farm’s staging, construction and commissioning over the last two years.

“Rhode Island’s tradesmen and women were proud to partner with America’s leading offshore wind developer to help build this historic project,” said Michael F. Sabitoni, President of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council. “We’re confident that this is just the first of many offshore wind projects that will put Americans to work up and down the East Coast for decades to come as we commit to a renewable energy future.”

The project’s local contractors included: AECOM, Aero Mechanical Inc., AIS Observers, Aladdin Electric, Badd Brothers, Bay Crane New England, Blount Boats, Challenge Electronics, Communication Systems Inc., DiPrete Engineering, Duffy & Shanley, E.W. Audet, Eagle Elevator, ESS Group, Essex Newbury, Fuss & O’Neill, GeoEnvironmental, GZA, Hart Engineering, Hinckley Allen, Inspire Environmental, Keough & Sweeney, Mayforth Group, Meridan Ocean Services, Mott MacDonald, National Grid, Rhode Island Fast Ferry’s Atlantic Wind Transfers, Specialty Diving Services, VHB, Waterson Terminal Services, and WF Shea, among others. Earlier this summer, National Grid completed installation of the sea2shore submarine cable connection between Block Island and mainland Rhode Island.

Deepwater Wind’s supplier and construction partners included GE Renewable Energy, Gulf Island Fabrication, Fred. Olsen Windcarrier, LM Windpower and LS Cable, Montco Offshore, and Weeks Marine.

The project’s investors include Deepwater Wind’s principal owner, an affiliate of the D.E. Shaw group, Citi, and GE Energy Financial Services, along with lenders Societe Generale, KeyBank, HSBC, SMBC, Cobank, and La Caixa.

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