Governor, members of congress, tour wind farm construction facility

Mon, 04/27/2015 - 2:30pm

Gov. Gina Raimondo and the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation got their first glimpse at Deepwater Wind's proposed Block Island wind farm when they congregated at Speciality Diving Services (SDS) in Quonset Point at 10:30 a.m. on April 27. The officials took part in an event that was held at the Quonset based company's welding and fabricating facility to celebrate Deepwater Wind's launch of local construction activities on the project. 

"Deepwater Wind represents what's so great about Rhode Island," said Raimondo. "Three hundred jobs are going to be created right here on this project, and that is a wonderful thing. Hopefully it's a sign of more to come."

"We're here today to celebrate the beginning of a world class renewable energy project," said Deepwater Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski. "This is something that's never been done before in the United States. The Block Island wind farm will be the first offshore wind farm in the U.S. This is just the start of something bigger."

Raimondo and Grybowski were joined by U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressman Jim Langevin, State Senator Susan Sosnowski, Specialty Diving Services CEO Nick Tanionos, Providence Chamber of Commerce President Laurie White, RI Building and Construction Trades Council President Michael F. Sabitoni and Deepwater Wind's Block Island wind farm construction team as they took a tour of the Quonset Point facility. Second Warden Norris Pike, BIRA president Bill Penn and EUTG board member Everett Shorey were in attendance at the event. 

"I'm just so excited that we are here to celebrate this," said Sosnowski. "Jeff was there with me in the very beginning (with this project). This moves Rhode Island toward greater energy independence. My constituents on Block Island are among the most environmentally conscious people in the nation, yet as you know they get their energy from a dirty, diesel polluting power plant. And they pay a premium for it. Some of the highest prices in the nation. So this project is going to change that."

"It's a great project," said Reed. "If we get it done it will be the first example of offshore wind energy in the country. And Quonset will become a hub for this type of industry." 

"They have a lot of good working space here," said Pike. "Good, qualified guys. I'm optimistic they'll do a real good job. It's important not only for Block Island, but for the country."

Grybowski said that the construction work being done at the Quonset facility will create jobs for the local workforce. Deepwater Wind passed out a document detailing the number of jobs associated with different components of the operation. 

"This is a big day," said Grybowski. "Very important day for us. It's the kick off of local construction."

Grybowski said that local construction on the Block Island wind farm will employ close to "330 construction workers in Rhode Island."

"The only people working in offshore wind energy in this country are standing behind me right now," said Grybowski, who was standing in front of about 30 laborers at the facility. "It is just the beginning of something much bigger."

Pike, Penn and Shorey all donned hard hats and toured the facility, where welders were busy assembling components of the wind farm. 

"I think it's as close to groundbreaking as you'll ever see," said Shorey. "It looks like it's a reality. It's going to happen. We've thought about this as a Block Island project, but it's really clear that this is a Rhode Island project."

The Block Island wind farm is on schedule to be the first offshore wind farm in the country when it becomes operational in the fall of 2016. 

Read the full story in this week's edition of The Block Island Times.