July 31, 2013

Reed and Whitehouse Congratulate RI on Completion of Wind Energy Auction

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse today recognized the important role the State of Rhode Island has played leading to the successful completion of the nation’s first competitive auction for offshore wind energy development.  Deepwater Wind won the auction, securing the rights to construct commercial wind energy farms in federal waters off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

“There are still many steps involved in this project becoming a reality, and throughout that process, there needs to be a clear and iron-clad commitment to jobs in Rhode Island, after all the state has done in this area,” said Senator Reed.

“The first competitive auction for wind energy development in the nation is an important step in a process that could ultimately bring badly needed jobs to our state and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Rhode Island is poised to be a leader in the development of wind energy because of a state planning process that engaged all stakeholders, and federal funding for infrastructure upgrades to Quonset and ProvPort.  I look forward to where we go from here.”

The auction, conducted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), was part of the U.S. Department of Interior’s (DOI) “Smart from the Start” initiative, which began in 2011 with a call to identify specific locations as candidates for offshore wind energy developments.   The area offshore Rhode Island was an early candidate thanks to a URI/CRMC-led process known as the Ocean Special Area Management Plan (SAMP), which has become a national model for marine planning. 

Throughout the process, Reed and Whitehouse have worked in coordination with State officials to ensure that future offshore wind turbines are appropriately sited in areas of greatest energy potential and with minimal impact to the environment, fishermen, and boaters.  And the Senators brought top federal officials to the state to for updates on the process, including then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in 2011, and BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau in 2012.

As the provisional winner of today’s auction, Deepwater Wind will have six months following execution of the lease to submit a Site Assessment Plan for environmental and technical review.  Once BOEM approves the Site Assessment Plan and other design and installation reports, Deepwater may begin construction in the wind lease area.


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Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921