Offshore Wind Developers Announce $ 24 Million Facility at ProvPort
PROVIDENCE – The owner of the country’s first offshore wind farm is set to build an assembly facility at the Port of Providence to support the development of much larger projects that would provide power to Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York.
Orsted, the world leader in offshore wind development and operator of the five-turbine Block Island wind farm, teamed up with its partner Eversource on Wednesday to announce the construction of the facility that will fabricate and assemble foundation platforms for what could represent more than 100 wind turbines. turbines.
The platforms are critical components for the proposed wind farms. They would be mounted on foundations fixed to the ocean floor and wind turbines would be installed on them.
The factory would be used as a regional hub to supply parts to projects under development by Orsted and Eversource in the northeast. Its construction over the next year will represent the first major work associated with offshore wind in Rhode Island since the completion of the 30-megawatt demonstration project off Block Island in 2016.
“We’ve been building around this time since the early days of the Block Island Wind,” said Matt Morrissey, head of US market affairs and strategy for Orsted.
The investment in ProvPort signals a commitment from Orsted and Eversource to Rhode Island, and reflects new optimism in the industry under a Biden administration that is pushing previously blocked proposals through the federal permitting process – even then. that commercial fishermen and other stakeholders raise concerns about the impacts.
It also shows how the Ocean State is using its first-mover status to benefit, through employment and economic development, from agreements made by other states to purchase offshore wind power.
“Ørsted and Eversource remain committed to making significant investments in Rhode Island to create new, well-paying union jobs and position our port facilities to become central hubs in this growing industry,” said the Governor Dan McKee in a statement.
The announcement comes as Orsted and Eversource are laying the groundwork for the development of a series of large-scale wind farms that would help meet the growing demand for renewable energy in the Northeast by providing electricity to local communities. hundreds of thousands of homes.
The projects include two in the same water area in the Rhode Island Strait: the South Fork Wind Farm, a 132-megawatt proposal that would send electricity to Long Island; and Revolution Wind, the 704 megawatt proposal that would provide 400 megawatts of capacity in Rhode Island and 304 megawatts in Connecticut.
They also include a third: the 924 megawatt Sunrise Wind, which would supply New York and be built off the coast of that state.
While Orsted and Eversource say South Fork is on track to get its federal license early next year, and the public comment periods on Revolution and Sunrise reviews could take place this spring and summer respectively. , investing in ProvPort is always a leap of faith for developers.
But Liz Donohue, Eversource’s head of government and regulatory affairs for offshore wind, said the industry had been reassured by recent actions by the federal government, including last month’s announcement of a plan to development of 30,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2030.
“It was a big step and they have taken steps since then to keep moving forward,” she said.
The new $ 24 million manufacturing facility is part of the total $ 40 million investments that Osted and Eversource previously announced in ProvPort and the Quonset business park.
The companies also entered into a labor pact with the Rhode Island Building and Construction Trades Council and Dimeo Construction, the main contractor for the project, agreeing to use only local union labor to build the 228-foot facility. long. The work will require around 40 jobs.
“These jobs represent huge opportunities for unionized workers to put their skills and enthusiasm at the service of a growing industry that will contribute to the economic recovery of our state and the power of our future,” said Michael Sabitoni, Chairman of the Trades Council.
The number of jobs would increase with the commissioning of the facility, Morrissey said. Orsted and Eversource have not announced any details of the turbines they will use, including their size and capacity. But if all projects were to proceed as proposed, they would need at least 100 turbines.
During the construction of the Block Island project, the main parts of the turbine foundation were made in Louisiana, but smaller parts were assembled in Quonset. Parts of the turbine towers were also completed at ProvPort.
But planned manufacturing work in Rhode Island will be more extensive, Morrissey said.
“I think the future of Rhode Island and offshore wind is very bright,” he said.