Deepwater Wind LLC has signed a new lease agreement with the Quonset Development Corporation for a turbine-manufacturing facility and office space in the Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown. The move positions the company to develop a proposed 150-turbine wind farm off the Rhode Island coast, but only after a much-smaller demonstration project the company hopes can be built in the next two years.
If all goes according to plan, the Providence-based company will see wind five wind turbines for the smaller project dot the skyline off the southeast coast of Block Island by 2014. The proposed Block Island Wind Farm could be the first offshore wind farm built in North America. Referred to as a “demonstration-scale” project by Deepwater, the farm is a 30-megawatt complex consisting of five Siemens-built direct drive – i.e., gearless – turbines, each with a capacity of 6 MW, said Meaghan Wims, a Deepwater spokeswoman.
The project is to be located within state waters and its permit applications are pending, expected to be finalized in the first quarter of 2013. Last October, Deepwater submitted its proposal to the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement for review and approval as well.
If the company is able to build the demonstration project as planned, it could clear the way for the much larger wind farm. That project would employ 800 to 1,000 workers for its construction at the proposed turbine-manufacturing facility in Quonset, according to the company.
“Under the development agreement we have an option on 62 acres” in the Quonset park, said Jeffrey M. Grybowski, chief administrative officer for Deepwater Wind. “We control the parcels under the agreement for three years and make payments. If within the three years we are ready to proceed with signing the lease, we let them know and start making lease payments.” Deepwater will make a $325,000 option payment the first year, $425,000 the next and $525,000 for the third year.
Under a previous deal that expired last October, but was continued until the new agreement was signed, Deepwater controlled 117 acres in the park that were scattered throughout the area, workable but not ideal, said Grybowski. The new agreement signed in May provides for contiguous parcels near the waterfront. “Now we can keep our operations on our own property. That’s a big advantage for us and for Quonset,” he said.