US approves second major offshore wind project in federal waters

(WASHINGTON) — As part of the Biden administration’s goal to deploy 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind energy by 2030, the Department of the Interior on Tuesday announced it has approved the construction and operations of the South Fork Wind project offshore Rhode Island.

This represents the department’s second approval of a commercial-scale, offshore wind energy project in the United States. Last week, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland celebrated the groundbreaking of the first commercial scale offshore wind project, located off the coast of Massachusetts.

Wind Farm In Sea
BOEM photo

“We have no time to waste in cultivating and investing in a clean energy economy that can sustain us for generations,” said 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.”

The approximately 130-megawatt South Fork Wind project will be located approximately 19 miles southeast of Block Island, R.I., and 35 miles east of Montauk Point, N.Y. It will create about 340 jobs and provide enough power for about 70,000 homes.

“Achieving the 30-GW goal can result in the creation of tens of thousands of good-paying union jobs across the country, as America moves to ramp up domestic supply chains for all aspects of offshore renewable energy development,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Mineral Management Laura Daniel-Davis. “Today’s announcement, coupled with critical investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will help us meet our goals for sustainable economies, clean energy, and climate resilience.”

Tuesday’s record of decision (ROD) documents the decision to approve South Fork Wind LLC’s plan to install 12 or fewer turbines off Rhode Island. The ROD adopts a range of measures to help avoid, minimize and mitigate potential impacts that could result from the construction and operation of the proposed project. These requirements were developed after consultation with tribes; federal, state, and local government agencies; as well as industry, ocean users, and other key partners and stakeholders.

The ROD is jointly signed by and addresses permitting decisions by Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the National Marine Fisheries Service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Prior to construction, South Fork Wind LLC must submit a facility design report and a fabrication and installation report. These engineering and technical reports provide specific details for how the facility will be fabricated and installed in accordance with South Fork’s approved plan for construction and operations.

BOEM expects to review at least 16 construction and operations plans of commercial offshore wind energy facilities by 2025, which would represent more than 19 GW of clean energy for the nation. The administration is preparing for lease sales in the New York Bight and offshore the Carolinas and California next year, and is actively working with states, tribes and key stakeholders to explore wind potential in the Gulf of Maine and in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as offshore Oregon and Hawaii.

– U.S. Department of the Interior

By Professional Mariner Staff