Deepwater Rhode Island offshore wind project evolving

Deepwater Wind, developer of the Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island, hopes to begin electricity production in 2013.

Deepwater Wind (Hoboken, N.J., USA) on Dec. 10 announced that it has reached agreement to sell power from the first phase of a Rhode Island project that eventually could supply 15 percent of the state's electricity. Under a 20-year power purchase agreement, Deepwater Wind will sell electricity from up to eight offshore turbines producing 28 MW to National Grid Plc (London, U.K.). There are currently no offshore wind projects operating near any United States coastline.

The first phase of Deepwater's project, called the Block Island Wind Farm, is expected to start operations in 2013. Its turbines are planned to go up 3 miles off the coast of Block Island in state-owned waters. The project includes plans to build a transmission line to Block Island, which currently relies mostly on diesel fuel. Any excess electricity generated by the project that the island does not use will be fed to the state's main grid.

Deepwater also plans to build a larger utility-scale offshore wind power project in federal waters. The developer must sign a separate power purchase agreement for that farm, rated at 385 MW. Together the projects would generate about 1.3 million MW-hours of electricity annually, enough to meet 15 percent of the state's energy needs, and cost $1.5 billion.