PROVIDENCE — Wind energy developer Ørsted and the utility company Eversource are proposing to build an offshore wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts and to sell the power to Rhode Island Energy.
The 884-megawatt proposal, enough to power 500,000 Rhode Island homes, would be called “Revolution Wind 2.” It would be within the same lease area south of Martha’s Vineyard where the same partnership had proposed a wind project called Bay State Wind, which wasn’t able to find a buyer for its power in Massachusetts and is no longer active.
The proposal for Revolution Wind 2 came in response to a request from Rhode Island Energy, the state’s major electric and gas utility formerly known as National Grid. The utility put out the request under legislation signed by Governor Dan McKee seeking up to 1,000 megawatts of offshore wind power for the state’s energy needs.
“We’re ready to deliver even more good-paying jobs and affordable clean energy to the Ocean State, and we’re confident that our new proposal will advance Rhode Island’s climate goals while delivering on the promise of a sustainable economic engine, rooted in thriving port facilities and powered by local union labor,” David Hardy, group executive vice president and CEO of the Americas at Ørsted, said in a news release last Monday.
Neither the state of Rhode Island nor the utility would say if other bidders have come forward with competing proposals. The deadline was last Monday. The pricing information also hasn’t been released.
Ørsted and Eversource have multiple federal seabed leases in the waters off Rhode Island and Massachusetts, including the one where they’re proposing to put Revolution Wind 2 and had previously proposed Bay State Wind. But there’s enough room in that lease area for multiple projects, and the developers are also proposing another project there called Sunrise Wind 2 for New York.
The newer project would be in a lease area southeast of the original Revolution Wind, another Ørsted and Eversource proposal. Revolution Wind would bring about 400 of its 704 megawatts of power to Rhode Island, the rest going to Connecticut. According to its website, Revolution Wind is estimated to be fully operational by 2025.
South Fork, another Ørsted/Eversource project, is currently under construction, though as its name suggests, it would bring its power to Long Island, not Rhode Island.
Supporters of the wind power industry see it as a way to create good jobs, particularly in Rhode Island, while also reducing dependency on fossil fuels. Rhode Island has binding reduction targets as part of its Act on Climate law. It was also an early mover in offshore wind, and although it’s small, some experts liken it to Ørsted’s corporate parent’s home country: Denmark. While not the biggest country in Europe, Denmark plays an outsize role in the continent’s wind power industry. Ørsted’s US co-headquarters are based in Providence and Boston.
Revolution Wind 2 still has a long way to go before becoming reality. If selected under this request for proposals, which would happen in June, the developer would have to negotiate an agreement with Rhode Island Energy, which then would need to be submitted by November to the Public Utilities Commission for approval.
The project itself would also need state and federal permitting — no easy feat in Rhode Island, whose understaffed coastal agency, the Coastal Resources Management Council, is working through several proposals.