In an historic moment for the American offshore wind industry, the Block Island Wind Farm has reached its “steel in the water” milestone with the installation of the first wind farm foundation component.
Deepwater Wind’s offshore foundation installation contractor set the first, 400-ton steel jacket on the sea floor on Sunday, July 26 at the wind farm site, roughly three miles off the Block Island coast. A joint venture between Weeks Marine and Manson Construction is serving as Deepwater Wind’s offshore foundation installation contractor.
Deepwater Wind’s leaders were joined today, July 27, by Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Abigail Ross Hopper, the state’s Congressional delegation, and more than a hundred other elected officials, leaders of national environmental advocacy organizations, federal and state regulators, Block Islanders and project supporters to celebrate the milestone during a ferry tour of the offshore construction site.
“We know the world is watching closely what we do here, and we’re incredibly proud to be at the forefront of a new American clean-tech industry launching right here in the Ocean State,” said CEO Jeffrey Grybowski. “This moment has been years in the making – and it’s just the start of something very big.”
This first of five foundation installations kicks off a busy construction period for the 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm. During the roughly eight-week construction period this summer, more than a dozen construction and transport barges, tugboats, crew ships and monitoring vessels will be active at the offshore construction site.
Vessel and crane operators, engineers, welders, scientists, protected species observers and dozens of others are all involved with this momentous operation.
“Weeks Marine and Manson Construction are enthused to assist with this challenging project and excited for the future opportunity it promises,” said Rick Palmer, Project Director for Weeks/Manson, a joint venture leading the installation work. “We commend Deepwater Wind for their diligent efforts that have led to this milestone achievement.”
The five steel jacket foundations were fabricated at Gulf Island Fabrication, Inc., which began fabrication work in late 2014 at its facilities in Houma, Louisiana. Rhode Island-based Specialty Diving Services provided fabrication work on components of the foundation substructures at its Quonset Point facility.
“Gulf Island has a reputation for delivering quality structures that are on time and within budget and this project was no exception,” said Kirk Meche, Gulf Island Fabrication’s Chief Executive Officer, President and Director. “We know that it was instrumental to the success of the project and we are proud to have been a part of this history making event.”
Submarine cable installation is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2016 and erection of the five Alstom Haliade 6 MW offshore wind turbines is scheduled for the summer of 2016. The project is scheduled to be in-service and generating power in the fourth quarter of 2016.
“Rhode Island is proud to be home to the nation’s first offshore wind farm – a great opportunity for our state to stake out real leadership in this growing industry. Not only are we going to create over 300 good-paying jobs, but we're going to rebrand ourselves as being more innovative and, over time, make Rhode Island a place that has a more diversified energy supply and greener energy. I’m committed to supporting this progress with a comprehensive jobs plan focused on making it easier to do business in Rhode Island and making sure we are training the workforce today to support the innovations of tomorrow.” – Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo
“Interior is proud to be a partner in this historic milestone for offshore renewable energy,” Secretary Jewell said. “Deepwater Wind and Rhode Island officials have demonstrated what can be accomplished through a forward looking vision and good working partnerships. Block Island Wind Farm will not only tap into the enormous power of coastal winds to provide reliable, affordable, and clean energy to Rhode Islanders, but will also serve as a beacon for America’s sustainable energy future.”– Sally Jewell, Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior
“Getting to this point has truly been a collaborative effort, and I would like to recognize all my colleagues, as well as Governor Raimondo and the state leadership for their efforts to position Rhode Island as a leader in clean, renewable energy. I am proud of the work being done here to help protect our environment, reduce long-term energy costs, support our local businesses, and create sustainable jobs. Together, we can build a local green energy industry here in the Ocean State for years to come,” U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island)
“After years of hard work, preparation, and planning, the Block Island Wind Farm is moving forward and is on track to become America’s first offshore wind farm. This innovative project puts the Ocean State at the forefront of the clean energy economy – generating clean energy for Rhode Islanders while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and creating hundreds of good jobs in the Ocean State.” – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island)
“The Block Island Wind Farm is a major step forward for Rhode Island and the entire region, and the laying of the foundation is the first exciting milestone in that journey toward greater use of alternative energy. This project is about energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, decreasing our dependence on foreign oil and, as construction gets fully underway, it is about jobs. This project is a big win for Rhode Island and for our environment, and I congratulate all those involved on this milestone.” – U.S. Congressman Jim Langevin (D-Rhode Island).
"Today, Rhode Island is standing on the cutting-edge of renewable and sustainable energy production with our country's first offshore wind farm. I congratulate everyone at Deepwater Wind on crossing an important threshold with the installation of the five steel foundations for the Block Island Wind Farm. When it’s completed, this project will help create new jobs, grow our local economy, and protect our state's vital natural resources for years to come." – U.S. Congressman David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island)
“Today’s event commemorates Deepwater Wind's vision, determination and, ultimately, its hard-won success for constructing our nation's first offshore wind farm. It also represents a major step forward in standing up a sustainable offshore wind program for the Atlantic Coast. We look forward to working together to responsibly transmit renewable energy from this offshore wind farm to the Rhode Island mainland." – Abigail Ross Hopper, Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
“This is a landmark day for offshore wind power in the United States. The Block Island Wind Farm project is pioneering the development of a brand new homegrown energy resource on a commercial scale. Offshore wind is already a proven technology and an established global industry, with over 7,000 MW of installed capacity worldwide. These projects attract well-paying jobs and billions of dollars in private investment into local economies around the world. With Deepwater Wind putting steel in the water today, it marks the first step of bringing those benefits home. This keeps American wind power on track to supply 20 percent of our electricity by 2030 while revitalizing port cities and stimulating an entirely new supply chain here in the United States. The Block Island Wind Farm is the first offshore wind farm in the U.S., and it will be far from the last.” – AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan
“Rhode Island is leading America toward a clean energy future with the construction of this project. The Block Island Wind Farm will provide pollution-free energy, keep energy dollars local, and create hundreds of new jobs - all while ensuring treasured wildlife like endangered Right Whales are protected. This is a great example of how offshore wind power can be a win for both people and wildlife. Now is the time for bold commitments from state leaders up and down the east coast to ensure this transformational resource plays a major role in our energy future.” – Collin O’Mara, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Wildlife Federation
“Today, we are proud to celebrate the first steel in the water at the Deepwater Wind site. This is a major milestone for the construction of America’s first offshore wind farm which, when complete, will provide local, clean power to all Block Island residents and create 300 new jobs in the community. This day is proof of how American ingenuity can lead the way, ensuring that our region and the nation step to the forefront of the global clean energy economy.” – Aaron Mair, President of the Sierra Club
“Today we celebrate an accomplishment more than half a decade in the making, and CLF is proud to have been a partner from the beginning. We’ve seen that an open, inclusive and data-driven ocean planning process can yield a result that preserves important habitats while supplying clean energy to businesses and families. I look forward to seeing this process replicated as we continue to address climate change and invest in ocean planning and offshore wind power.”– Tricia K. Jedele, Vice President and Director of Conservation Law Foundation’s Rhode Island Advocacy Center
“The Coastal Resources Management Council congratulates Deepwater Wind in being the first offshore windfarm in the United States. The CRMC shares in that enthusiasm – of what this means for our future as a state and nation – because without the Council’s development of the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan, this would not be possible. Rhode Islanders should be proud of the marine spatial planning efforts that CRMC has undertaken, as it resulted in a number of firsts in the nation, with the Block Island Wind Farm being one of them.” – Grover Fugate, Executive Director, Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council
“The Block Island Wind Farm is a tremendous opportunity for the Ocean State’s workforce. Our laborers in the building and marine trades are perfectly positioned to support this project. Dozens of Rhode Islanders helped build these foundations, and over time, the project will employ hundreds more Rhode Island tradesmen and women and help them build skills for this growing industry.” – Michael F. Sabitoni, President of the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council