A coalition of environmental and conservation groups and developer Deepwater Wind have announced an agreement to implement additional protections for endangered North Atlantic right whales during pre-construction activities for the Deepwater ONE offshore wind farm, being developed off the Rhode Island and Massachusetts coasts.
In July 2013, Deepwater Wind acquired a 30-year lease to develop the up-to-1 GW Deepwater ONE project in the Rhode Island-Massachusetts Wind Energy Area after winning the first-ever competitive lease auction for offshore wind development in the U.S. The lease area covers approximately 256 square miles in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Conservation Law Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council and National Wildlife Federation have developed a set of protective measures with Deepwater Wind. The measures include a commitment by the developer to avoid all noise-producing activities during specific periods in the spring when North Atlantic right whales have been known to frequent Rhode Island Sound, as well as reduced speed limits for all vessels involved in site characterization and assessment activities for the Deepwater ONE project during these periods.
"We take our responsibility to be a national leader in responsible offshore wind development very seriously, and ensuring marine mammals are protected is just one way we're fulfilling our commitment," says Jeffrey Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind.
Tricia K. Jedele, vice president and director of the Conservation Law Foundation's Rhode Island Advocacy Center, adds, "By working with CLF and our partners to protect North Atlantic right whales and other marine mammals, Deepwater Wind shows that offshore wind can achieve its potential to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels while maintaining great sensitivity to our important natural resources."
Deepwater Wind says construction at the Deepwater ONE site could begin as early as 2017, with commercial operations by 2018.