By Chris Barrett
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE – Wind farm developer Deepwater Wind announced Wednesday plans to double the size of a wind farm proposed off the coast of Rhode Island.
The company said it wants to build as many as 200 turbines about 20 miles off the mainland in addition to a smaller project of five to eight turbines off of Block Island.
The larger project, which the company calls the Deepwater Wind Energy Center, was initially proposed to include 100 turbines that could generate 350 megawatts. The latest proposal would generate 1,000 megawatts.
“This ‘second generation’ of offshore wind farms will be larger and farther from shore, and will produce lower priced power, using more advanced technology than the offshore projects announced to date,” said Deepwater Wind CEO William M. Moore. “We expect the offshore wind industry in the United States to follow the European experience, where a more mature industry is building larger projects farther from shore.”
The company said it filed a request with the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement to lease an ocean area roughly between Martha’s Vineyard and Block Island.
A company called Neptune Wind says it has also asked the federal government for a lease in the same area.
Also on Wednesday, Deepwater Wind said that it was proposing to develop an interstate transmission network to carry the farm’s electricity to Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island.
“The Deepwater Wind Energy Center is a major leap forward for the offshore wind industry,” Moore said. “DWEC will be the first regional offshore wind energy center in the United States, with a wind farm and a transmission system serving multiple markets. The industry is maturing and becoming a major force in reshaping our national energy future for the better, and DWEC will lead this effort.”
The project is the largest wind farm currently proposed for U.S. waters. The Cape Wind project with about 100 turbines is expected to generate about 170 megawatts.
Deepwater Wind said the scale of its project would allow it to produce less expensive electricity than competing smaller farms. Critics have said the power generated by Cape Wind and Deepwater’s Block Island project would be too costly.
Earlier this year, the R.I. Public Utilities Commission rejected a contract that outlined the sale of electricity from Deepwater Wind's Block Island project. The commission said the price proposed was too high.
When the commission approved the contract on a second go-around, Toray Plastics and Polytop Corp. appealed to the R.I. Supreme Court, saying the price was not "commercially reasonable" as required by law.
The court is currently reviewing legal briefs and a decision is not expected until next year.