Deepwater still has a few hurdles

After CRMC vote (if approved)
Fri, 05/02/2014 - 3:30pm

Four agencies — two state and two federal — will have the final say on whether the Deepwater Wind project moves into the construction phase.

It was announced last week that the state Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) may make its final vote on the project at a May 13 meeting (it has 45 days after the meeting to cast its vote). According to Deepwater Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski, that will be the final vote the CRMC will make on the matter.

The state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is the other state agency that must approve the project.

If the Block Island Wind Farm is given the go-ahead by the CRMC and the DEM, the permitting process will move to the federal level, according to Grybowski.

“The CRMC [vote] is a prerequisite to the federal steps of the permitting process,” said Grybowski.

The Army Corps of Engineers oversees the entire wind farm, said Grybowski. It is currently reviewing Deepwater’s 10,000-page environmental report. Grybowski said the Army Corps has all the information and documentation it needs to make a decision. It is not known when the Army Corps will issue its permit (pending the CRMC vote), Grybowski said.

“We are in federal waters, and they must issue an individual permit,” said Grybowski of the Army Corps.

The other federal agency, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), has a narrower purview, according to Grybowski. The BOEM must issue a “right of way” permit because nine miles of the transmission cable that will connect Block Island to the mainland is in international waters. (The CRMC has jurisdiction over the remaining three miles.)

“The BOEM will act roughly at the same time as the Army Corps,” said Grybowski, again adding that he was not sure when a decision might be made.

In related news, Grybowski said that the fifteen blades needed for the five turbines have been delivered in Denmark. As to where the turbines will be built, Grybowski said that although the final turbines will be assembled here, sections of the turbines will be constructed elsewhere.

“A variety of components will be brought in from the Gulf of Mexico, some from Europe and other components will go to a port here in Rhode Island – [turbine components will be] assembled in a variety of places,” Grybowski said.

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2015.