The target date for completing Deepwater Wind’s proposed Block Island wind energy farm is slipping into 2015, CEO Jeff Grybowski said.
Providence-based Deepwater Wind previously aimed to have the five-turbine wind farm done by 2014.
“It’s a combination of things. We had to go back to the power purchase agreement that was challenged and that cost us a year,” Grybowski said of the legal challenge to Deepwater Wind’s contract to sell energy to National Grid.
“We have to allow for the uncertainty that may occur during the permitting process,” he said. “The financial closing to borrow funds to construct the project would take several months. Then we’d have to execute the contract and place orders for major pieces of equipment.”
The lead time on equipment generally ranges from 12 to 18 months, one more reason the company is now looking at a later time frame for completion, he said.
“A realistic time potential is 2015,” Grybowski said. “It can happen faster than that, but it’s not something we’re banking on.”
The project, to be located three miles southeast of Block Island, is expected to generate 200 construction jobs and six to 10 permanent jobs, Grybowski said.
Deepwater Wind is in an informal race with the planned Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound to be the nation’s first offshore wind farm.
The 130-turbine Cape Wind project, in an area called Horseshoe Shoal, is being developed by the Massachusetts-based Energy Management Inc.
“I would not say we’re racing with Cape Wind. There’s some healthy competition between the two companies.” Grybowski said. “I think there may be some bragging rights in being the first, but that’s not very important at the end of the day. I hope both of the projects are successful.”
The results of three years of environmental studies on the Block Island Wind Farm were submitted to state and federal agencies in September and October. With the $7 million in studies for permit applications completed, the agencies are currently soliciting public comments on the project.
“There will be multiple opportunities for the public to be involved,” said R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council spokesperson Laura Dwyer. Several public meetings will be scheduled and the council’s Ocean Special Area Management Plan subcommittee will review the project, she said.
“We’re hoping the public hearing part of permitting process would be concluded sometime in the spring,” Grybowski said.
The Block Island wind farm is a demonstration project for Deepwater Wind, which is planning larger offshore wind projects to serve multiple East Coast markets, including New England, New York and New Jersey, according the company’s website.
“The Block Island wind farm is a demonstration to the financial community in the United States that offshore wind projects can be financed and built,” Grybowski said.
Deepwater Wind has submitted plans to the federal government to be considered for a larger offshore project, he said.
The proposed 150-turbine project, called the Deepwater Wind Energy Center, is to be located about 20 miles south of the Rhode Island coast between Block Island and Martha’s Vineyard. Target date for that proposed project is 2017 or 2018, Grybowski said.
Public comments on Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm must be submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by Dec. 31. They can be submitted in writing to:
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
New England District
Attn: Michael Elliott
696 Virginia Road
Concord, MA 01742-2751
or via email: Michael.J.Elliott@usace.army.mil.
The CRMC has set a Jan. 15, 2013, deadline for public comments on the Block Island wind farm. They should be submitted in writing to:
R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council
Oliver H. Stedman Government Center
4808 Tower Hill Road
Wakefield, RI 02879
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