As Cape Wind, the proposed offshore wind farm off Massachusetts, enters its second decade of controversy and legal wrangling, a similar, smaller installation off nearby Block Island may soon become the country’s first operational offshore wind farm. Already in its final planning phases, the Block Island Wind Farm will consist of five 6-megawatt turbines located three miles southeast of Block Island.
According to developer Deepwater Wind, the 600-foot tall turbines will generate over 125,000 megawatt hours annually—enough to power a majority of Block Island. As in Massachusetts, the proposal is controversial—island residents have expressed concern over navigational hazards, environmental impact and ocean views. However, many residents seem pleased that the wind farm may be a cleaner and more affordable alternative to the diesel generators that now power the island’s grid. Simultaneously, a coalition of environmental groups is working closely with developers to address such concerns as the protection of endangered North American right whales. Assuming environmental issues are resolved at both the state and federal levels, Deepwater plans to begin construction in 2013 and start generating power in 2014.