Powering Strong Communities

Interior Approves Second Major Offshore Wind Project

The Department of the Interior (DOI) last week said it approved a 132-megawatt (MW) wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island.

It is the second commercial scale offshore wind farm approved by the DOI.

In July, the federal agency approved Vineyard Wind I, an 800-MW project being jointly developed by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables, about 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and 35 miles from the Massachusetts coast. The project is scheduled to come online in mid-2024.

The newly approved South Fork Wind project, being jointly developed by Ørsted and Eversource, is sited about 19 miles southeast of Block Island, Rhode Island, and 35 miles east of Montauk Point, New York.

The DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) approved the construction and operation of 12 or fewer turbines off Rhode Island. The project is on track to be fully permitted by early 2022, according to the developers, who say they will soon ramp up construction activities. Prior to construction, South Fork Wind must submit a facility design report and a fabrication and installation report, providing details for how the facility will be fabricated and installed. The project is expected to come online in late 2023.

In March, a group including the New York State Public Service Commission and the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), agreed to and adopted a plan to build a 7.6-mile transmission line to link the South Fork Wind project to New York State’s power grid via a substation in the Town of East Hampton in Suffolk County on the east end of Long Island. The transmission line is due online by 2023.

In 2017, LIPA’s board of trustees approved a power purchase agreement with the developers of the South Fork Wind project.

The approvals help New York State move closer to its goal of economy-wide carbon dioxide neutrality and a zero-carbon dioxide emissions electricity sector by 2040. The state’s energy plan includes a commitment to develop over 1,800 MW of offshore wind by 2024.

In a wider framework, the approval of the South Fork Wind project helps support the goal set by the administration of President Joe Biden to deploy 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2030.

As part of that effort, the administration is looking at the potential sale of up to seven new offshore leases for wind power projects by 2025.

BOEM said it expects to review at least 16 construction and operations plans of commercial offshore wind energy facilities by 2025, representing more than 19 GW of clean energy.