The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has issued a decision of no competitive interest for the construction of a transmission system between the Rhode Island coastline and Block Island – an important step in evaluating the transmission project proposed by Deepwater Wind that would deliver power from its proposed five-turbine, 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm.
BOEM received an application from Deepwater Wind requesting a right-of-way grant for an eight-nautical-mile-long, 200-foot-wide corridor in federal waters on the Outer Continental ShelfÂ (OCS) to connect the proposed offshore wind farm – to be located in Rhode Island state waters approximately 2.5 nautical miles southeast of Block Island – to the Rhode Island mainland.
The proposed offshore transmission connection would also transmit power from the existing onshore transmission grid to Block Island. Deepwater Wind estimates that the proposed wind farm will generate over 100 GWh annually, supplying the majority of Block Island's electricity needs.
"Today's announcement further solidifies our plan to bring reliable renewable energy to the residents of Block Island and the rest of the state of Rhode Island," says Deepwater Wind CEO William Moore. "This is just the latest milestone for a path-breaking project that will jump-start the East Coast offshore wind industry."
Before reviewing the OCS right-of-way application, BOEM had to determine whether there were other developers interested in constructing transmission facilities in the same area. In May, BOEM issued a request to determine whether there was competitive interest in building the offshore transmission system.
BOEM also solicited public comment on site conditions and multiple uses within the right-of-way grant area that would be relevant to the proposed project or its impacts, yielding two public comments that BOEM says will help inform future decisions. Following the 60-day open comment period, BOEM has determined there is no overlapping competitive interest in the proposed right-of-way grant area off Rhode Island.
The majority of the activities and permanent structures related to the entire wind farm project will be sited in state waters and on state lands, which means that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be the lead federal agency for analyzing the potential environmental effects of the project under the National Environmental Policy Act.
BOEM says it will continue to consult with the state task force and partners regarding the proposed transmission project.