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    Sunday, June 23, 2024

    Path cleared for construction of Revolution Wind farm

    The federal government on Tuesday cleared a path for the start of construction of Revolution Wind, the first offshore wind farm that will bring electricity to Connecticut.

    The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has approved the construction of up to 65 wind turbines and two offshore wind stations in federal waters 15 nautical miles southeast of Point Judith, R.I.

    The 199-page Record of Decision released by the bureau on Tuesday describes alternatives and incorporates plans for mitigation of environmental impacts on a project that will supply electricity to Connecticut and Rhode Island.

    The decision is one of the final hurdles for a project that is a joint venture of Danish wind company Ørsted and Massachusetts-based utility Eversource, the same team developing State Pier in New London as a staging and assembly area for Revolution Wind and other offshore wind projects. Eversource has announced an end to the partnership with Ørsted but is still a partner in the Revolution Wind project.

    State Pier in New London, nearing completion of a $300 million upgrade project, is already in use and hosting massive wind turbine components to be installed at South Fork Wind, a smaller-scale 12-turbine project under construction off the coast of Long Island. That project will bring offshore wind power to New York.

    “I recently visited the new State Pier to see the first of several shipments of offshore wind turbine blades for Ørsted and Eversource’s first project unloaded from the cargo ship,” U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney said in a statement. “Today’s announcement is another positive step towards cleaner energy and great economic opportunity for Connecticut and the region. Revolution Wind—one of the first projects of its kind in the Northeast U.S. ― will directly power Connecticut homes, create good-paying jobs, and significantly reduce carbon-emitting power.”

    Revolution Wind, as approved by the federal government, is a slightly scaled back version of what was initially pitched as a 100-turbine wind farm but still expected to produce 704 megawatts of electricity ― power for about 250,000 homes by federal estimates.

    Revolution Wind is designed to bring 400 megawatts of power to Rhode Island and 304 megawatts to Connecticut via an undersea cable to Quonset Point in Rhode Island.

    “This significant federal decision reflects a thorough review and assessment of the project's impacts by BOEM. Now, we may proceed with the project's construction, heading into 2024 with the goal of being commercially operational in 2025," Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee said in a statement. "The Revolution Wind project will play a significant role in advancing the state's Act on Climate law, growing our clean energy economy, and achieving our 100% renewable energy standard objectives.”

    Rhode Island lays claim to the nation’s first commercial offshore wind farm, the 30 megawatt, five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm, a demonstration project first developed by Deepwater Wind, which was purchased by Ørsted.

    Gov. Ned Lamont, in a statement on Tuesday, highlighted the urgency of climate action in the face of extreme weather events and underscored the need to address the “climate crisis.”

    “This decision from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which paves the way for Connecticut’s first offshore wind farm, is welcome news for the state’s clean energy goals, and will help improve our environmental health and drive economic growth, particularly in towns along the shoreline where staging and assembly work is occurring,” Lamont said.

    David Hardy, executive vice president and CEO of the Americas region at Ørsted, expressed gratitude for the federal approval and the opportunity to drive job creation and local supply chain growth. He said the Record of Decision moved Revolution Wind to the construction phase "bringing good-paying jobs to hundreds of local union construction workers, keeping local ports busy with assembly and marshaling activities and further growing the local supply chain.“

    The first phase of onshore construction for Revolution Wind, the digging of test pits in the area of the Quonset Business Park and nearby town-owned roads, is expected to begin this month. Offshore construction is slated to begin next year with the installation of monopile foundations and wind turbines.

    The project still awaits final approval from the Department of the Interior of the Construction and Operations Plan (COP), along with other necessary federal and state authorizations. The final decision is anticipated this fall.

    g.smith@theday.com

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