Deepwater Wind has filed its final state and federal permit applications with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and other agencies for its proposed Block Island Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island.
The other agencies are the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, the company said Oct. 2, noting that these public agencies have primary jurisdiction over the development of the wind farm and its associated underwater transmission system.
The filing “represents a significant milestone toward development of the” project, Deepwater Wind CEO William Moore said in the statement.
The agencies will review the applications and the public will be able to comment in the coming weeks, the company said, adding that it expects this final stage of the permitting process to be resolved by early 2013.
The five-turbine, 30-MW demonstration-scale offshore wind farm will be connected to Block Island, R.I., and mainland Rhode Island through the bi-directional Block Island Transmission System. The wind farm will be located in state waters about three miles off the Block Island coast.
Deepwater Wind also said it invested more than $7m – all private dollars – in the effort, which involved dozens of experts including biologists and ecologists with expertise in avian, marine mammal and fish species and their habitats as well as terrestrial and marine archaeologists.
Based on the effort, which involved data collection from airplanes, ocean-going survey vessels and remote-operated vehicles on the sea floor, Deepwater Wind believes there are no environmental impediments to building and operating the wind farm and transmission cable in the designated locations.
According to the filing, the project will consist of the five turbines, a submarine cable interconnecting the wind turbine generators (WTGs) and a 34.5-kV transmission cable from the northernmost WTG to an interconnection point on Block Island.
The 34.5-kV alternating current bi-directional submarine transmission cable will run up to about 21.8 miles from Block Island to the mainland. Deepwater Wind Block Island Transmission, a wholly owned indirect subsidiary of Deepwater Wind Holdings, will develop and construct the transmission system and will likely transfer ownership of the system to Narragansett Electric d/b/a National Grid USA, which is a subsidiary of National Grid plc.
State regulators issued an order in August 2010 approving a power purchase agreement between Deepwater Wind and National Grid for the sale of power from the wind farm, the company said, noting that the order was upheld by the state supreme court.
The project will also include construction of one new substation in the town of New Shoreham on Block Island at the site of an existing power generation facility on property owned by the Block Island Power Company, the company said.
The location of the WTG array within the Rhode Island Renewable Energy Zone reflects the efforts undertaken to choose a site that minimizes the potential impact on natural resources, such as marine mammals and sea turtles, and existing human uses, including commercial and recreational fishing, the company said.
The project represents four years of site selection and consideration of alternative sites and operating parameters, the company said. For instance, a reduction in number of WTGs from an original eight to the current five improves the financial performance of the project and minimizes the visual impacts, bottom disturbance and other potential environmental effects.
Furthermore, the company said its jacket foundation technology allows for placement of the WTGs in the deeper regions of state waters, allowing the project to be located as far as possible offshore while providing the state with the benefits of a project located in state territorial waters.
Among other things, Deepwater Wind noted that for potential impacts such as those on existing telecommunication cables, the company has designed cable crossings to avoid impacts on the operating telecommunication cables and if needed, crossing agreements will be negotiated with cable owner-operators before construction.