Deepwater Wind LLC is on the verge of completing the first offshore wind farm in U.S. waters, a milestone for an industry that has struggled for a more than decade to build in North America.
Workers have installed blades on four of the five 589-foot turbines at the site off the coast of Rhode Island and construction may be complete as early as this week, according to Chief Executive Officer Jeff Grybowski.
The 30-megawatt, $300 million project is expected to begin commercial operation in early November.
“We will finish in advance of our original schedule,” Grybowski said in an interview at a dock on Block Island. “And we are in-line with our budget.”
After years of false starts, the offshore wind industry appears to be gaining momentum in the U.S.
The federal government has awarded 11 leases to companies to develop projects along the East Coast, off New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maryland and Virginia.
This month, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed a bill requiring utilities to buy 1,600 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind farms over the next decade.
And in the coming weeks, New York State plans to release a long-range plan to develop wind farms off the coast of Long Island.
The Block Island wind project comes after an attempt to build a 468-megawatt off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, ran aground after years of opposition from fishermen, American Indian groups and the Kennedy family, whose compound of homes overlooks Nantucket Sound.
The Cape Wind project had been in the works for 13 years, when National Grid Plc and Northeast Utilities’ NSTAR unit filed to cancel its power-purchase agreements in early 2015, and has made little progress since then.
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