Deepwater Wind receives first permit for Block Island wind farm

Deepwater Wind announced Thursday that it has received the first major environmental permit approvals needed to begin deployment of the Block Island wind farm.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management issued Water Quality Certificates to the company, deeming the proposed wind farm and transmission system in compliance with state water quality regulations and the federal Clean Water Act, the company said in a news release. The agency also issued a Freshwater Wetland permit for onshore construction activities associated with the project.

Jeffrey Grybowski, chief executive officer of Deepwater Wind, called the permits a "major step forward" for the project.

Deepwater Wind must next secure an assent from the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, as well as approvals from the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The company said it expects to secure all remaining permits this spring.

The certificate includes several stipulations, including provisions to protect important marine species, ensure compliance with environmental and safety standards, and require appropriate installation methods for the buried submarine cable, the company said.

Deepwater Wind has begun the initial stages of construction on the 30-megawatt wind farm, which would be located about 3 miles off the coast of Block Island. The project remains on target to be the nation's first offshore wind farm, expected to be in operation in 2016, the company said.

Earlier this year, Deepwater Wind selected Alstom as its turbine supplier and long-term maintenance and service provider. This month, the company said, it received delivery of 15 wind turbine blades from Alstom in Denmark.

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