Biden admin. approves New York’s first offshore wind farm


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New York’s first offshore wind project could begin construction as soon as January of next year, according to its developers, after receiving approval from the Biden administration last week.

South Fork Wind, a 132-megawatt project to be located 19 miles southeast of Block Island, Rhode Island, has received its Record of Decision from the U.S. Dept. of Interior. Ørsted and Eversource are partnering on the project, which is the second commercial-scale offshore wind project to receive federal approval in the U.S.

“Today is a red-letter day for the future of offshore wind,” said Fred Zalcman, director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance. “Today’s federal approval of New York’s first utility-scale offshore wind farm is the culmination of several years of planning and community engagement and will demonstrate the massive economic, environmental, and social benefits of this renewable resource for all New Yorkers.”

Once completed, South Fork Wind will produce enough clean energy to power 70,000 homes in New York. Operations are expected to begin at the end of 2023, the companies said.

The announcement is a positive step for the Biden administration’s goal of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030. Last week, Vineyard Wind 1, the first commercial-scale offshore wind project in the U.S., celebrated its groundbreaking in Massachusetts. That project will be able to generate enough clean energy to power more than 400,000 homes with clean energy.

“We have no time to waste in cultivating and investing in a clean energy economy that can sustain us for generations,” said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “Just one year ago, there were no large-scale offshore wind projects approved in the federal waters of the United States. Today there are two, with several more on the horizon. This is one of many actions we are taking in pursuit of the President’s goal to open the doors of economic opportunity to more Americans.”

Vineyard Wind 1, the first commercial-scale offshore wind project in the U.S., celebrated its groundbreaking in Barnstable, Massachusetts on Thursday. (Courtesy: Vineyard Wind US)

South Fork Wind is approved to install 12 or fewer wind turbines offshore Rhode Island. The project will utilize Siemens-Gamesa’s 11-megawatt turbines. Kiewit Offshore Services will design and build the project’s substation.

In January, the project expects to receive its Construction and Operation Plan approval for the one-nautical mile turbine layout, construction methodology, fishing industry compensation plan, and mitigation measures to protect species.

“Today’s announcement is a watershed moment for New York State,” said NYSERDA CEO Doreen M. Harris. “We are encouraged to see the federal government’s commitment to ensuring critical projects like South Fork Wind move ahead swiftly to tackle the existential threat of climate change while providing good paying jobs when our economy needs it most. New York is cementing itself as the nation’s leader in offshore wind, delivering cost-effective and reliable renewable energy as part of its goals to deliver a more sustainable future for New Yorkers.”

Denmark-based Ørsted is a global leader in onshore and offshore wind development and currently operates the Block Island Wind Farm, the first offshore wind farm in the U.S., and the two-turbine Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot project.

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Author: John Engel

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