Large offshore wind projects along the Atlantic coast of the United States have suffered some setbacks recently, particularly in New Jersey where residents have placed a higher value on tourist dollars than continuing to live on the fabled Jersey shore as it moves westward toward Trenton.
The story is quite different in Rhode Island, where Revolution Wind (its name is a sly pun) — a joint venture between Ørsted and Eversource — celebrated the start of construction of a large offshore wind farm in the waters of Rhode Island Sound south of Point Judith. The project, which will supply enough clean electricity to power 350,000 traditional homes, received final approval for the onshore part of the project from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in August.
Rhode Island governor Dan McKee and local leaders gathered at the Quonset Business Park last week to check on the progress of this first utility scale offshore wind project for Rhode Island and Connecticut. The first offshore wind farm in America began supplying electricity to Block Island exclusively 5 years ago this month. Approximately 100 union jobs have already been created to build Revolution Wind’s onshore underground transmission system at Quonset.
Offshore Wind For Rhode Island
“Here in Rhode Island, we continue to capitalize on one of our state’s most abundant natural resources to create good paying jobs and meet our clean energy goals,” said Governor McKee. “The progress we’re seeing on the construction of Rhode Island’s first utility scale offshore wind farm is an encouraging sign of Rhode Island’s momentum in this crucial economic sector.”
“Rhode Island’s leadership in offshore wind offers up a national model to help strengthen American energy independence and boost our competitiveness in the race toward a cleaner energy future,” said US Senator Jack Reed. “Clean energy infrastructure projects bring good paying jobs and environmental benefits and will help to reduce long-term energy costs for Rhode Islanders.”
“Rhode Island is a leader in offshore wind, which has created good-paying union jobs and will lower the cost of energy for working people in our state,” said Representative Seth Magaziner. “I am pleased that, after a thoughtful and comprehensive process, Revolution Wind has received the final approval it needs to proceed with construction and take a significant step toward achieving our state’s goal of achieving 100% power from renewable energy by 2033.”
Revolution Wind will create thousands of direct, indirect, and induced jobs, as well as permanent operations and maintenance jobs across both Rhode Island and Connecticut. Once complete, the 704-megawatt Revolution Wind will deliver 400 megawatts of clean, affordable offshore wind power to Rhode Island and 304 megawatts of the same to Connecticut, powering more than 350,000 homes across the two states and helping both states reach their ambitious climate goals.
Quonset Is The Ideal Offshore Wind Hub
Home to more than 13,000 jobs at 229 companies, including 1 in 5 manufacturing jobs in Rhode Island, Quonset is the region’s leading engine of job growth and economic development. Quonset’s Port of Davisville is one of the Top 10 auto importers in North America. Significant investments by Governor McKee and the General Assembly have been crucial to establishing Quonset as an emerging hub for the offshore wind industry in the North Atlantic, the companies said in a press release.
“Our mission at Quonset is inspired by our U.S. Navy Seabee heritage and their ‘Can Do’ motto,” said Steven King, managing director of the Quonset Development Corporation, who welcomed guests and dignitaries. “With the support of Governor McKee and the General Assembly, we’ve put that ‘Can Do’ spirit to work by developing and implementing the Port Master Plan that is preparing Quonset’s Port of Davisville to serve as a key hub for offshore wind in the coming decades.”
Quonset was home to the Navy’s Construction Battalion — the famous SeaBees who built ports and roads to support the war effort during World War II. The Quonset hut portable shelter was created there.
King acknowledged the flexibility of the Quonset tenants who worked with QDC to make way for the cable landing and substation at the Business Park and noted that the start of offshore wind construction has already led to a significant increase in port activity.
Eversource and Ørsted selected New England contractor BOND Civil & Utility Construction as the general contractor to install the underground duct bank system and build the onshore substation for the 704-megawatt Revolution Wind offshore wind project. This work is covered by a Project Labor Agreement (PLA) with the Rhode Island building and construction trades to ensure this work would be completed by local union labor.
“Revolution Wind is now in full construction mode of the onshore transmission system, which connects the offshore wind farm to the local grid, delivering clean renewable energy to over 350,000 homes in Connecticut and Rhode Island,” said Joe Nolan, chairman of Eversource Energy. “With Eversource’s decades of experience building transmission systems combined with BOND Civil & Utility Construction’s expertise, we are leading the way to create a modernized and reliable energy grid, while at the same time delivering many well-paying local union jobs for Rhode Island skilled workers.”
“Rhode Island is the birthplace of American offshore wind, and the investments we’re making in local union job creation for Revolution Wind builds upon the legacy of the Block Island Wind Farm,” said Troy Patton, Head of Program Execution — Americas at Ørsted. “We’re proud to once again partner with the Rhode Island building trades on this important scope of work to deliver Revolution Wind’s clean energy to the regional grid. It’s just the latest example of our commitment to standing up a new American industry, with union labor at its core.
History Is Made Again In Rhode Island
In 2016, Rhode Island made history with Orsted’s construction of the Block Island wind farm, which had just five turbines. This second project of more than 100 turbines will also be handled by Orsted. Patton said Rhode Island is showing how other states can bring offshore wind to their coasts.
“We celebrated five years at Block Island very recently, and really we’ve shown the way with that construction both for federal leaders and for state how it can be done, and we’re doubling down on that commitment with Revolution Wind,” Patton told WPRI Channel 12 News.
Revolution Wind’s underground transmission cable will come ashore at Quonset Business Park and deliver energy from the wind farm to the electric grid following a one-mile underground route located entirely within the business park and avoiding residential streets.
“Since the inception of this process, Eversource and Ørsted have been very respectful of the North Kingstown community. They solicited input and kept local neighbors and council members informed every step of the way,” said Gregory A. Mancini, president, North Kingstown Town Council. “The town appreciates their efforts in making this challenging and important economic and environmental project a success.” Oddly enough, officials in New Jersey said just the opposite about Ørsted, saying it was secretive and evasive about its plans. Hard to believe both narratives could be true,
“BOND is eager to support Eversource and Ørsted on the Revolution Wind project with a supply of clean renewable energy, not just for our generation, but for generations to come,” said Kane Cuddy, president of BOND Civil and Utility. “This is an important project that we’re honored to be a part of and builds on our growing practice within the renewables sector.”
Meanwhile, Revolution Wind is making progress on the project’s advanced foundation components at Ørsted and Eversource’s regional assembly hall located in the Port of Providence. It expects to receive final approval from BOEM on its offshore construction and operations plan this month. Offshore construction will begin in 2024, with the project expected to become operational in 2025.