The American wind energy industry along with Rhode Island state legislators and others celebrated what Deepwater Wind is calling a “historic moment” for the offshore wind industry as the first “steel in the water” milestone was met this week for the Block Island Wind Farm. This marks the installation of the first offshore wind farm foundation component – a 400-ton steel jacket on the sea floor – by Weeks Marine and Mason Construction. The site is located roughly three miles off the Block Island coast.
On hand for the ceremony were Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Abigail Ross Hopper, the state’s Congressional delegation, and more than a hundred other elected officials, leaders of national environmental advocacy organizations, federal and state regulators, Block Islanders and project supporters to celebrate the milestone where guests took a ferry tour of the offshore construction site.
“Rhode Island is proud to be home to the nation’s first offshore wind farm – a great opportunity for our state to stake out real leadership in this growing industry,” said Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “Not only are we going to create over 300 good-paying jobs, but we’re going to rebrand ourselves as being more innovative and, over time, make Rhode Island a place that has a more diversified energy supply and greener energy. I’m committed to supporting this progress with a comprehensive jobs plan focused on making it easier to do business in Rhode Island and making sure we are training the workforce today to support the innovations of tomorrow.”
Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski noted, “We know the world is watching closely what we do here, and we’re incredibly proud to be at the forefront of a new American clean-tech industry launching right here in the Ocean State. This moment has been years in the making – and it’s just the start of something very big.” When complete, the offshore wind farm will generate 30 MW.
Construction is set for an eight-week period this summer and more than a dozen construction and transport barges, tugboats, crew ships and monitoring vessels will be active at the offshore construction site. In addition, vessel and crane operators, engineers, welders, scientists, protected species observers and dozens of others are all involved with this momentous operation.
“Weeks Marine and Manson Construction are enthused to assist with this challenging project and excited for the future opportunity it promises,” said Rick Palmer, Project Director for Weeks/Manson, a joint venture leading the installation work. “We commend Deepwater Wind for their diligent efforts that have led to this milestone achievement.”
The five steel jacket foundations were fabricated at Gulf Island Fabrication, Inc., which began fabrication work in late 2014 at its facilities in Houma, Louisiana. Rhode Island-based Specialty Diving Services provided fabrication work on components of the foundation substructures at its Quonset Point facility.
“Gulf Island has a reputation for delivering quality structures that are on time and within budget and this project was no exception,” said Kirk Meche, Gulf Island Fabrication’s CEO, president and director. “We know that it was instrumental to the success of the project and we are proud to have been a part of this history making event.”
Submarine cable installation is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2016 and erection of the five Alstom Haliade 6 MW offshore wind turbines is scheduled for the summer of 2016. The project is scheduled to be in-service and generating power in the fourth quarter of 2016.
U.S. Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) added, “The Block Island Wind Farm is a major step forward for Rhode Island and the entire region, and the laying of the foundation is the first exciting milestone in that journey toward greater use of alternative energy. This project is about energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, decreasing our dependence on foreign oil and, as construction gets fully underway, it is about jobs. This project is a big win for Rhode Island and for our environment, and I congratulate all those involved on this milestone.”