Revolution Wind project moves forward with start to federal permitting review

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Thursday announced the start to its review process of the Revolution Wind Farm planned by Orsted A/S and Eversource Energy. Orsted also owns and operates the Block Island Wind Farm, pictured above. / COURTESY ORSTED U.S. OFFSHORE WIND

PROVIDENCE – Plans to bring 400 megawatts of wind power to Rhode Island are advancing, with the federal agency in charge of issuing the project permits on Thursday announcing the start to its review process.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in a statement said it will begin its formal review and decision on the 100-turbine Revolution Wind project proposed for federal waters off the coast of Block Island. The process begins with a public comment period and review of the project for its impact on wildlife, fishing and boating industries and other economic and environmental factors before the agency issues a final decision.

International renewable energy developer Orsted A/S, which jointly proposed the project with the utility company Eversource Energy, previously announced its original 2023 completion date would likely be delayed due to uncertainty in the federal permitting process under the previous presidential administration. 

With BOEM’s announcement Thursday, the company will “soon be in a position to better refine the project’s timeline,” Orsted spokeswoman Meaghan Wims said in an email on Thursday.

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In a statement, the company called the federal agency notice  “the most significant permitting milestone to date.”

“Revolution Wind is now one critical step closer to helping Rhode Island and Connecticut realize their clean energy goals, while delivering thousands of good-paying local jobs, providing significant local investment and helping to grow a new domestic supply chain,” the company stated. “We look forward to BOEM’s review as it moves toward issuing a final Environmental Impact Statement for this historic offshore wind project.”

Rhode Island’s Port of Galilee is slated to serve as an onshore operations and maintenance hub for the 100-turbine project, according to the plans submitted to BOEM. Orsted and Eversource also recently announced plans to build a wind farm manufacturing facility at the Port of Providence as part of its $40 million investment in both Providence and Quonset ports.

Revolution Wind has also submitted plans to the R.I. Public Utilities Commission’s Energy Facility Siting Board which must review and approve the plans for project transmission cables. Hearings are expected to begin in the fall, with requests for advisory opinions from a slew of local and state environmental, government and health organizations due back by August, according to a preliminary order issued April 26.

At least three other wind farms slated for nearby waters have already begun or completed their own permit review process, with the Vineyard Wind project in Massachusetts slated to finish in 2023.

Nancy Lavin is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Lavin@PBN.com.

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