Deepwater alters construction date for whales near Block Island

Fri, 02/08/2013 - 5:15pm

Deepwater Wind said on Monday that it has altered its planned construction period for its proposed Block Island offshore wind farm in order to protect North Atlantic Right Whales.

Deepwater said it would not conduct pile driving at the wind farm site three miles southeast of the island in April of the construction year (planned for 2014 or 2015) because right whales have been documented feeding in Rhode Island Sound throughout that month.

The pile driving will fasten the five turbine’s steel foundations to the seafloor, using steel piles that are hammered up to 250 feet under the ocean floor, Deepwater explained in a press release.

“We’re pleased to reach an agreement that balances protection of marine mammals with responsible development of the tremendous wind resource off Block Island’s coast,” Deepwater CEO Jeff Grybowski said in the press release.

Deepwater made the decision at the behest of the Conservation Law Foundation. It is similar to one made in December, when Deepwater agreed to protect right whales in the mid-Atlantic waters by New Jersey.

“Deepwater Wind’s robust engagement on the issue of right whale protection is a model for the industry,” said Tricia K. Jedele, vice president and director of CLF’s Rhode Island office, in a press release.

Deepwater filed an amended project schedule with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council.

This past October, Deepwater came before Block Island’s Town Council to ask for a change to its agreement with the town. The agreement allowed Deepwater three months of construction on town beach property through May 15 of construction year; the council agreed to extend that date to June 21.

Deepwater’s request was partially because construction periods would conflict with the spring whale migration.