PROVIDENCE — Politicians, union leaders, and the developer behind Rhode Island’s next wind farm gathered in the city Thursday to celebrate the fifth anniversary of its first.
It’s been five years since the Block Island wind farm became operational. (Technically it’s been five years and nine months, but December 2021 wasn’t a great time to have a five-year anniversary party.) The starting five, as current owner and operator Ørsted calls them, were a demonstration project to determine the feasibility of wind power in U.S. waters.
The Block Island farm shows offshore wind power is more than just feasible, industry leaders say.
“It’s a celebration of what was the beginning of something that could be big,” Ørsted Offshore North America CEO David Hardy said after an event held at the CIC Providence on Dyer Street. “But it’s really about looking forward to what’s coming next. A lot is coming fast.”
The wind farm off Block Island provides energy to the island and, at some times, to the mainland too, Hardy said. There are five turbines in the project. With the farm, the island was able to turn off fossil fuel guzzling generators. It also provides a training ground for the workers on the next generation of wind power projects on the horizon.
The event Thursday featured speeches by Governor Dan McKee and recorded remarks by U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
Ørsted, whose parent company is based in Denmark, is also the developer behind upcoming offshore wind projects. They include South Fork, which is under on-shore construction and will bring power to Long Island, New York; and Revolution Wind, which is in the approval process and would bring power to Connecticut and Rhode Island. Both are joint ventures with Eversource. Revolution Wind would dwarf the Block Island farm in size, at 704 megawatts to Block Island’s 30.
Ørsted has U.S. headquarters in Boston and Providence. The company currently has 57 employees in Providence, and expects to have more than 100 by the end of 2023.