R.I. wind farm developer Deepwater wins N.J. project

Mon, 10/13/2008 - 5:00am

Chris Barrett

The company slated to build a wind farm off the coast of Rhode Island was selected last week to construct one off the coast of New Jersey also.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities announced October 3 that Deepwater Wind would partner with the Public Service Enterprise Group to develop a 345.6-megawatt offshore wind facility southeast of Atlantic City, 16 miles off the coastline.

Last month a panel appointed by Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri selected the New Jersey-based Deepwater Wind from among seven proposals to construct a 1.3-million megawatt-hour farm. University of Rhode Island scientists are working to find the best site for the wind farm, which Deepwater executives estimate will cost at least $1.5 billion.

The farm, privately financed, is expected to include about 100 turbines and a connection to Block Island, although company officials said they are unsure if the connection would allow the island to purchase power from the mainland grid.

‘Jackets’ mean jobs

The New Jersey project is expected to cost at least $1 billion, according to the state’s Board of Public Utilities. Deepwater plans to use the same four-legged support structures, called “jackets,” as it plans to use in the Rhode Island project.

At a ceremony announcing the Rhode Island project, company officials said they plan to build the jackets in Quonset, creating some 800 jobs. If the jackets for the New Jersey project are also built at Quonset, additional workers would be needed.

“This exciting opportunity to develop offshore wind projects in Rhode Island and now New Jersey underscores how Deepwater Wind’s proven, ocean-based wind technology is the solution to the pressing challenges of climate change and energy independence,” Deepwater Wind CEO Chris Brown said in a statement. “This is another win for Rhode Island … an early leader in offshore wind energy production and creating good paying, green-collar jobs.”

In a statement congratulating Deepwater Wind, Carcieri hailed the economic benefits of the New Jersey project.

“This is as much a win for Rhode Island as it is for Deepwater Wind,” Carcieri said. “We gain an important competitive advantage in attracting alternative energy companies, including turbine manufacturers, to the state and in creating new high wage, green energy jobs across Rhode Island.”

New Jersey selected Deepwater Wind from among five proposals. Two proposals — from Bluewater Wind and Fishermen’s Energy — were from companies that also bid on the Rhode Island project.