BLOCK ISLAND , R.I., July 27 (UPI) -- Construction of the United States' first offshore wind farm, an installation of five turbines near Rhode Island's Block Island, has begun.
"This is something we've been working toward for seven years, so this is a pretty significant moment for us," said Jeffrey Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind, said of the $225 million project. "It's a proverbial steel-in-the-water moment. In our industry, we don't have groundbreakings, we have water breakings."
Five foundations, built by a Louisiana company whose specialty is the offshore oil and gas industry, will be installed within eight weeks; European-built turbines will be mounted on them a year from now.
Several months afterward, the project should yield 30 megawatts of electric power, powering the 17,000 homes on Block Island, 12 miles from the mainland and currently using expensive diesel fuel to make its electricity. Excess electricity will be carried to the mainland by cable.
The turbines will be 589 feet above sea level, making them among the tallest in the world. While the plan is small in comparison to many land-based wind farms in the United States, Deepwater Wind could demonstrate the feasibility of using offshore wind as an energy option; the method already generates 8,760 megawatts of power in Europe and Asia.
The project has received the support of Rhode Island's government, and its planning has incorporated input from recreation and commercial fishermen and other stakeholders in the project and in historic Block Island.