Deepwater transmission cable wins federal approval

Sat, 08/18/2012 - 5:00pm

A new U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approval brings Deepwater Wind one step closer in an extensive permitting process to install its planned wind farm off the coast of Block Island, and to lay the transmission cable that will connect the wind farm with Block Island and the Rhode Island mainland.

BOEM announced on Aug. 7 that it has found “no competitive interest” in the federal waters where Deepwater plans to install its cable — meaning that, within a 60-day open comment period, the bureau found no other developers that would be interested in a similar project in the proposed area.

“The next big step is permitting for the wind farm and cable done concurrently,” said Deepwater Chief Administrative Officer Jeff Grybowski. “BOEM is now clear to give a lease, or right-of-way access, to us if we get through the permitting process.”

Deepwater Wind requested a right-of-way grant for an eight nautical mile, 200-foot wide corridor in federal waters on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), where the company plans to place its cable. Grybowski explained that BOEM is the primary jurisdiction in this leasing process.

The cable will connect the company’s proposed offshore wind farm, a 30-megawatt five-turbine project off the coast of Block Island, with the mainland power grid and with Block Island. Deepwater estimates the project will provide more than 100,000 mega-watt hours annually, which would be most of the island’s power needs, it said in a press release.

“Projects like this transmission line have the potential to bring clean electricity to Atlantic coast communities,” said BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaureau in a Deepwater press release.

Following this no-interest determination, the next step will likely be a public hearing in the fall, said Grybowski, at which BOEM, the Coastal Resources Management Council and Army Corps of Engineers will review all permitting application information submitted by Deepwater.

“It all comes together at the very end for final approval,” he said, and added that permitting would be up for approval sometime around March of next year.