The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has authorized the transmission line slated to connect to Deepwater Wind's 30 MW Block Island offshore wind demonstration project.
The DOI's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has issued Deepwater a right-of-way (ROW) grant for the Block Island Transmission System (BITS), a bi-directional submerged transmission cable between Block Island and the Rhode Island mainland. The ROW corridor, which is about eight nautical miles long and 200 feet wide, comprises the portion of the transmission line that crosses federal waters. According to BOEM, the BITS project would also transmit power from the existing onshore transmission grid on the mainland to Block Island.
"This is a major milestone for offshore renewable energy in the United States," says Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. "This decision marks the first right-of-way grant offered in federal waters for renewable energy transmission, paving the way for Block Island, the only Rhode Island community not connected to the grid, to have access to clean, affordable renewable energy."
BOEM says it will send the grant to Deepwater Wind for execution, and the company will be required to pay the first year's rent and provide financial assurance. Once the grant is executed, BOEM will finalize its review of Deepwater Wind's general activities plan, which describes proposed installation activities and conceptual decommissioning plans for the transmission system.
In September, Deepwater Wind declared that it received its final federal approval to build the Block Island offshore wind farm, but the developer had noted that it was still waiting on BOEM to sign off on the ROW for the associated transmission cable.
Deepwater expects offshore construction on the wind farm to begin next summer, with the project in service in 2016.