B.I. Wind Farm to get a new owner

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 5:30pm
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When the news was announced this past week that Danish company Ørsted — billed as the largest owner and developer of wind farms in the world — was taking ownership of Deepwater Wind, Deepwater Wind Chief Executive Officer Jeff Grybowski was asked by The Block Island Times what, if anything, that change of ownership meant for the island and its wind farm.

“The project will continue to operate as it always has. Folks should know that. Maybe some people do, but maybe most don’t know, that Ørsted is the pioneer in the off-shore wind industry. They are the clear global leader. They built the first offshore wind farm in 1991 in Denmark. They have over 1,200 turbines in operation. They have a world-class record of successful, well-run, safe projects. You can’t be in better hands,” he said. Grybowski described former owners, D.E. Shaw, as an “investment firm,” while calling Ørsted a company that “overwhelmingly runs more offshore wind than anyone in the world.” Grybowski has been named co-CEO of the new combined company, which still has to go through a regulatory process to receive final approval.

When asked how this will impact the ownership and maintenance needed for both the Deepwater Wind cable, which connects the turbines to the island, and the National Grid cable, which connects the island to the mainland — both of which had unexpected exposure issues this past summer — Grybowski said “nothing in terms of the relationship will change.”

According to the press release issued by Deepwater Wind on Monday, Oct. 8, Ørsted “plans to grow Deepwater Wind’s current Rhode Island presence in the coming years, making Providence and Boston the two major hubs of the company’s U.S. offshore wind activities.”

When asked to elaborate, Grybowski said, “The plan for the combined company will be to have offices in Providence and Boston and we’ll merge the two teams together, grow our presence for the next series of projects. We have three separate projects going: South Fork project in Long Island, Revolution Wind for Rhode Island and Connecticut” — the large offshore wind project consisting of 50 turbines that was originally called Deepwater One — “and the Skipjack project for Maryland. Ørsted is also getting ready to build off the coast of Virginia. Providence will be one of the major hubs of all that activity.”

When asked if the change of ownership will impact the progress of the South Fork project for Montauk, Grybowski said, “I don’t think so. I hear most people support the project and have a positive view.” Grybowski said that, as they were on Block Island, “the skeptics tend to be quite vocal.” Grybowski was asked about the discrepancy between the reaction of the Montauk fishing community, which is vociferously opposed to the South Fork project (which will be 15 turbines), and the Block Island fishing community, which has stated that the turbine foundations have created a new, bountiful fishery.

“That’s a good point. I think there are a couple of dynamics going on,” said Grybowski. “The fishing business in general is tough — they’ve got quotas, and offshore wind is another thing they have to deal with. They have some worry and it’s understandable, but I hope we can turn them toward concrete examples — like the people fishing off Block Island.”

Grybowski was also asked about the fact that Montauk seems to be negotiating a much stronger community donation package — into the millions — than was negotiated for the Block Island community.

When asked what Block Island received in the deal with Deepwater Wind, Grybowski said, “Other than the $100 million cable? I think that’s my answer.”

According to the press release, “development of the company’s new 50-turbine Revolution Wind project for Rhode Island and its investments in Rhode Island will continue as planned. The Revolution Wind project is expected to create over 800 construction jobs in Rhode Island and dozens more long-term maintenance and operations jobs. Operations at the Block Island Wind Farm, America’s first offshore wind farm, will continue as normal.”

The press release also listed the company’s completed and proposed projects:

“Ørsted’s current U.S. offshore wind portfolio has a total capacity of approx. 5,500 megawatts comprising:

Development rights for up to 2,000 MW at the Bay State Wind site off the coast of Massachusetts.

Development rights for up to 3,500 MW at the Ocean Wind site off the coast of New Jersey.

In Virginia, Ørsted will be constructing two six MW wind turbine positions for phase one of Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind Project. Ørsted has exclusive rights with Dominion Energy to discuss potential development of up to 2,000 MW of offshore wind capacity.

“Deepwater Wind, America’s leading offshore wind developer, has built an attractive and geographically diverse portfolio of projects along the U.S. East Coast. Deepwater Wind’s portfolio has a total potential capacity of more than 2,800 MW comprising:

Block Island (30 MW), the only operational offshore wind farm in the U.S.

Three offshore wind development projects in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maryland and New York totaling 810 MW of capacity with long-term revenue contracts in place or currently being under award.

Approximately 2,000 MW of offshore wind development potential across three well-sited BOEM lease areas in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Delaware. 

“According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, with the combined capacity and organization, Ørsted will be able to deliver clean energy to the eight states on the U.S. East Coast that have committed to build more than 10,000 MW of offshore wind capacity by 2030.”