The U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has issued a request to determine whether there is competitive interest in the construction of a transmission system between the Rhode Island coastline and Block Island – an important step in evaluating a transmission project proposed by Deepwater Wind that would deliver electrical power from its proposed 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm in state waters.
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 Shelf (OCS) to connect the company's proposed offshore wind farm, 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.
"As companies continue to plan wind energy generation projects off of Rhode Island and elsewhere along the Atlantic coast, it is critical that we also remain focused on developing the infrastructure that will bring that power to the grid," says BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau.
Before reviewing the OCS right-of-way application, BOEM must determine whether there are other developers interested in constructing transmission facilities in the same area. The majority of the activities and permanent structures related to the entire wind farm 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.
If BOEM receives indications of competitive interest from qualified entities in response to the notice, the bureau may decide to move forward with the right-of-way grant issuance process using competitive procedures. BOEM will continue to consult with the state task force and partners regarding the proposed transmission project.
In addition to determining competitive interest for commercial activities in the right-of-way area, the bureau is providing an opportunity for the public and interested stakeholders to provide comments on the Deepwater Wind right-of-way request.
Comments can be made on information relating to potential effects on the environment and marine habitats; geological and geophysical conditions (including bottom and shallow hazards); archaeological, historic and/or cultural resources; and the multiple uses that exist in the area, including commercial and recreational fishing.