A state with a long maritime history has tapped into an unlikely offshore resource. R.I. Gov. Donald L. Carcieri has announced that the offshore wind power developer, Deepwater Wind, has been chosen to construct a wind energy project off the shores of Rhode Island. The project will provide 1.3 million megawatt-hours per year of renewable energy, which is 15 percent of all electricity used in the state.
The expected power will help the state zero in on the goal set by Carcieri two years ago to increase the use of renewable energy to 20 percent, with 15 percent coming from wind energy.
The developer has made a significant commitment to the state. It is expected the project will cost more than $1 billion to construct. All funds will come from private investment sources. Deepwater Wind’s major investors are FirstWind, a major developer of onshore wind projects in the United States, DE Shaw & Co., a capital investment firm with experience in the energy sector, and Ospraie Management, an asset management firm with a focus on alternative energy markets.
Deepwater Wind also plans to construct a regional manufacturing facility in Quonset, which will manufacture support structures upon which the turbine and its tower are based. This facility will serve the entire northeast.
Deepwater CEO Chris Brown said the company’s vision is: “To develop multiple utility-scale wind farms in deep water in the northeast. Quonset will be the base of those manufacturing operations.”
The exact location of the wind project will be determined from the results of the special area management plan (SAMP) permitting process led by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council in partnership with URI’s Graduate School of Oceanography. Deepwater will reimburse the cost of the SAMP to the state’s Renewable Energy Fund.
Final approval of the project is contingent on multiple regulatory approvals from both the state and federal governments.