Yesterday, more than 600 developers, supply-chain companies, investors, policymakers and clean energy advocates filled the halls of the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Offshore WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition in Rhode Island.
The event is being held just as the nation’s first-ever offshore wind project – Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm – is on the verge of supplying enough clean electricity to power 17,000 American homes.
“We’re competitive here in Rhode Island, and we take a great deal of pride in knowing that we beat every other state to be the first with steel in the water and blades over the ocean,” said Gov. Gina Raimondo, D-R.I., who was recently named chair of the Governors Wind and Solar Energy Coalition.
Other notable Rhode Island elected representatives joined Raimondo at the event, including U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline, and U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin.
This past summer, Rhode Island passed legislation to grow the state’s renewable energy target from 14.5% by 2019 to nearly 40% by 2035. According to AWEA, building wind farms in Rhode Island, including Block Island, has already attracted more than $300 million in capital investment.
“We’re proud to host AWEA here in Rhode Island, home to America’s first offshore wind farm,” said Jeffrey Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind. “AWEA’s important work is critical to the growth of our industry. While the Block Island Wind Farm may have jump-started this new U.S. industry, we’re confident that it’s just the start of a much larger renewable energy sector that will power American communities for decades to come.”
“The completion of the Block Island Wind Farm is far more than just a ribbon-cutting; it is the dawn of an entirely new source of U.S. energy,” added Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “Thanks to strong political leadership, strong policies and an innovative industry, we’re seeing a pathway forward for offshore American wind power.”
AWEA says its Offshore WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition is the largest gathering of offshore wind energy professionals in the U.S. The conference, being held at the Crown Plaza Hotel Providence-Warwick, is powered by 100% wind energy through renewable energy credits, thanks to green sponsor EDP Renewables.
Sponsors of the event include DNV-GL, GE Renewable Energy and Siemens.
“We need to take this moment to recognize the accomplishment of getting America’s first-ever offshore wind farm completed, but we’ve only just begun,” said Nancy Sopko, manager of advocacy and federal legislative affairs for AWEA. “We need to dive deeper into how to keep this momentum going. It is incumbent on all of our attendees to find ways to create a thriving U.S. offshore wind industry.”