The Rhode Island-based firm Deepwater Wind, which had hoped to build a wind farm to power the East End off of the Montauk coast, has begun work installing five turbines in a demonstration project off the coast of Block Island, which could be the first offshore wind farm in the United States.
The Deepwater ONE project off of Montauk was not among the bid winners of last year’s alternative energy contracts awarded by the Long Island Power Authority, though East End wind energy advocates had staged several rallies in support of the project at LIPA board meetings in Uniondale last fall.
Deepwater Wind won a 30-year lease in 2013 to 256 square miles of prime federal lands about 30 miles off the coast of Montauk, where they initially planned to build about 35 6-megawatt turbines, but have room to install up to 200 turbines, if a utility company agrees to buy the electricity they produce.
The smaller, 30-megawatt Block Island project, has not been suffering the same setbacks. Deepwater Wind received $290 million in financing for the Block Island project earlier this year from Societe Generale in Paris, France and KeyBank National Association, putting the project ahead of Massachusetts’ Cape Wind in the pipeline after that firm suffered financing and power-purchasing setbacks this spring.
The project is expected to be online providing power to Block Island by the end of 2016.
Deepwater Wind previously signed a turbine supply and maintenance agreements with turbine maker Alstom, which will supply the Block Island Wind Farm with five of Alstom’s 6-megawatt Haliade 150 offshore wind turbines.
Deepwater Wind has selected Fred Olsen Windcarrier to provide its jack-up vessel Bold Tern for the turbine installation three miles off the coast of Block Island.
Work is now underway on some of the wind farm foundation components at Specialty Diving Services in North Kingstown, R.I., where Deepwater Wind held a launch celebration last week.
The 1,500-ton foundations are being constructed by Gulf Island Fabrications in Houma, La.
“We remain committed to hiring as many local workers as possible to support this endeavor, and our fabrication agreement is just the start of our commitment to kickstarting a homegrown economic engine,” said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski.