Revolution Wind Wins Approval for 100 Turbines Off Rhode Island

Worker repairs turbine blade (Courtesy of Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut)


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The first offshore wind project contracted to sell energy to Connecticut cleared a major hurdle on Monday, with Eversource and Ørsted’s 880 MW Revolution Wind gaining federal environmental approval to install up to 100 wind turbines off the coast of Rhode Island.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management released its Environmental Impact Statement, a major step before the agency decides whether to give the project final approval this summer. While it found the project would impact fisheries and marine mammals, ….

The bureau found that the proposed project itself would have “moderate” impact on commercial fisheries in the area, saying the fishing industry “would have to adjust somewhat” to disruptions from its constructions. 

But it said the cumulative impact of more than 3,000 turbines in the Rhode Island -Massachusetts lease area could have a “major” impact on some fishing boats if conflicts for space push them out.

The federal agency also found the project would have a “moderate” adverse impact on marine mammals, and said it preferred the companies would install just 65 turbines instead of 100. The “preferred alternative” would allow the project to meet its obligations to sell 704 MW of power to Connecticut and Rhode Island, while also limiting the extent of pile-driving noise that could impact marine mammals, the bureau said.

BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein said the agency used feedback from Tribal Nations, industry and stakeholders to make sure it addressed potential impacts in its review of the project, which would build up to 100 turbines about 15 nautical miles off Point Judith, Rhode Island.

A simulation showing the view of the proposed Revolution Wind farm from the Newport Cliff Walk in Rhode Island. (Revolution Wind/BOEM)

“This milestone represents another important step forward in building a new clean energy economy here in the United States,” Klein said in a news release.

In a separate release, Eversource Director of External Affairs for Offshore Wind Julia Bovey said the approval demonstrates the Biden administration’s “unwavering commitment” to building the renewable energy infrastructure needed to meet clean energy goals.

A simulation showing the view of the proposed Revolution Wind farm from North Light on Block Island. (Revolution Wind/BOEM)

“This major milestone brings Revolution Wind one significant step closer to delivering enough clean electricity to power more than 350,000 homes,” Bovey said. “This essential project is already benefiting local communities, establishing a new, homegrown supply chain, and creating job opportunities for workers in the industries of tomorrow, today.”

Eversource  and Ørsted are contracted to sell 400 MW from Revolution Wind to Rhode Island and 304 MW to Connecticut. The companies agreed in 2019 to sell 200 MW from Revolution Wind to Connecticut at $99.50/MWh, and another 104 MW from that project at $98.43/MWh.

A simulation showing the view of the proposed Revolution Wind and Vineyard Wind I wind farms, from Aquinnah Cliffs Overlook on Martha’s Vineyard. (Revolution Wind/BOEM)

The companies have not asked Connecticut to renegotiate those prices, while the other company contracted to sell wind power to Connecticut – Avangrid – has asked for a higher price to reflect economic changes since 2019.

Eversource has said it intends to sell its stake in Revolution Wind and two other offshore wind projects it has been partnered with Ørsted on, though it hasn’t announced yet who will buy its stake. 

In May, Eversource announced a loss of $220 to $280 million when it sold its share of offshore wind lease areas and onshore port facilities, including the New London State Pier, to its partner Ørsted.

Revolution is still set to use the New London Pier as a staging area for construction. The pier is currently being used to stage turbines for another Eversource/Ørsted project – the 132 MW South Fork Wind project that’s contracted to sell power to New York.