Any Deepwater Wind competitors must step forward

Federal regulators are seeking any offshore transmission developers who might compete to serve a proposed wind development in Rhode Island.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on May 22 initiated the “Determination of Competitive Interest and Granting Process” for the proposed Deepwater Wind transmission connection for the 30-MW wind farm off Block Island to the mainland.

Deepwater Wind’s proposed Block Island Wind Farm (BIWF) in state waters approximately 2.5 nautical miles southeast of Block Island.

Deepwater Wind proposes to construct a 34.5-kV submerged transmission cable between Block Island and the Rhode Island mainland. The developers propose to connect to an existing substation on the mainland in South Kingstown, R.I.

The line would transmit power from the proposed wind farm to the Rhode Island mainland and transmit power from the existing transmission grid on the Rhode Island mainland to Block Island. The proposed right-of-way across Block Island Sound is for 100 feet on either side of the cable.

Block Island is currently served by a diesel-fuel burning power plant on it.

The process is similar to the just-completed finding of “no competitive interest” for the Atlantic Wind Connection transmission backbone that could serve wind development from New Jersey to Virginia.

On May 14, the U.S. Department of Interior ruled no other transmission developers came forward to offer competing projects in areas along the East Coast that AWC proposes to build a 300-mile-long offshore electric transmission backbone. The project configuration will enable up to 7,000 MW of offshore wind turbine capacity to be integrated into the regional power grid operated by PJM.

In July 2010 the National Ocean Council was formed, which established a comprehensive, integrated national policy for the stewardship of the oceans, coasts and the Great Lakes. BOEM is charged with taking actions to implement those policies.

BOEM established the BOEM Rhode Island Renewable Energy Intergovernmental Task Force in November 2009, at the request of the governor, to facilitate coordination among affected Federal agencies and state, local, and tribal governments relating to renewable energy development on the OCS offshore Rhode Island. A Memorandum of Understanding between the governors of Massachusetts and Rhode Island was signed in July 2010.