- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

To be seen, or not to be seen. That is the question.

A press release issued this week announcing that the large proposed wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island, called Deepwater ONE, could supply energy to Long Island also made several references to the fact that the Deepwater ONE wind farm would not be visible to residents of Long Island.

The press release, titled “Deepwater Wind proposes powering Long Island’s East End with renewable energy offshore wind farm,” has a subhead that reads: “Wind Farm Will Not Be Visible from Long Island. The text also contains the following statement: “Deepwater Wind is proposing supplying Long Island with more than 200 megawatts of renewable energy from Deepwater ONE – an offshore wind farm located approximately 30 miles east of Montauk, New York. At this distance, the wind farm will be ‘over the horizon,’ and not visible from any point on Long Island.”

There is also a quote from Deepwater Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski that states, “Our proposal not only provides a cost-effective source of new clean energy, but it also has the unique ability to deliver large quantities of energy to the East End – where demand is growing – without being seen.”

According to news stories last July, when it was announced that Deepwater Wind had won a 30-year lease to build the windfarm in federal waters, it was always the intent to link New York to this new renewable energy supply.

A Deepwater Wind press release at the time stated: “A competitive lease auction – the first-ever auction held in the United States for commercial offshore wind development – was held today by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) for two parcels, totaling more than 164,000 acres, in BOEM’s Wind Energy Area on the Outer Continental Shelf roughly 17 miles south of Rhode Island, between Block Island, Rhode Island, and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

“Deepwater Wind plans to develop the Deepwater Wind Energy Center (DWEC), a utility-scale wind farm of up to 200 turbines with a regional transmission system linking Long Island, New York, to southeastern New England.”

But the visibility of the wind turbines off the coast of Block Island, for the five turbine project known as the Block Island Wind Farm, however, has long been an issue for opponents of that smaller project.

Grybowski was quick to point out that the press release was issued in part to correct an error that was printed in a New York publication’s news story (since corrected) that said the larger windfarm would be visible from Long Island.

He also wanted to separate a couple of other issues. As to the visibility of the Block Island five-turbine wind farm, Grybowski said that Deepwater Wind had no real say in where the turbines were placed. “We responded to a request to build a wind farm in state waters in the renewable energy zone and that’s what we did,” Grybowski said.

He also pointed out that this week’s press release was specifically about the much-larger, as-yet-to-be-built project, in 256 square miles of federal waters. Grybowski said the closest wind turbine in that project would be 18 miles off the Rhode Island coast. Other wind turbines would be about 23 or 24 miles from the mainland.

“I consider those specks on the horizon,” said Grybowski. “We’re doing our best to site the turbines as far away as we possibly can.”

As for the five turbines off the coast of Block Island being visible, longtime opponent to the Block Island wind farm, Maggie Delia, said “I think they couldn’t care less about Block Island. That [the visibility of the wind turbines] was a point that came up often at the hearing on Block Island (on Feb. 24). Their mission [Deepwater Wind’s] is to be in the deep water, out of sight. Their mission has nothing to do with what we’re getting. They really don’t care. This is a demonstration project for their investors. Our tourism, aesthetics, fishing – it doesn’t make any difference to them. They came to an island that has a real problem and took advantage of that to stick that in our face.”

According to the press release, construction on Deepwater ONE could begin as early as 2017, with commercial operations by 2018. Deepwater ONE will produce enough energy to power approximately 120,000 homes, displace tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, and improve air quality on the East End of Long Island, the press release said.