Wind farm gearing up for final stretch

Substations are operational
Fri, 12/02/2016 - 10:00am

The Block Island Wind Farm is a matter of weeks away from beginning its commercial operation. That’s according to Meaghan Wims, spokesperson for Deepwater Wind, the developer in charge of constructing the nation’s first offshore wind farm.

“We’re working with several regulators to get final sign-off on the protocols for operating the wind farm,” Wims told The Block Island Times on Tuesday, Nov. 29. “We expect that to finish up in the next week or two, and then we’ll begin commercial operations.”

While Deepwater Wind had targeted an original start date of Nov. 15, the project will not begin its commercial operation until December. In Jan. of 2017, the energy produced by the wind farm will be sold to the mainland electrical grid, which includes the New England Power Company and the Independent System Operators for the New England region.

The 30-megawatt, five-turbine wind farm has been undergoing testing of its equipment and operating systems since it completed construction of the five turbines on Aug. 18, 2016. The wind farm’s turbine blades have been seen spinning periodically over the past few months.

Meanwhile, National Grid said that it is standing by and ready to receive the energy that is produced by the wind farm. “The substation is operational,” said National Grid’s Lead Media Relations Director David Graves, referring to the company’s switchgear tranmission system situated on property adjacent to the Block Island Power Company on Ocean Avenue. “Our equipment is in working order.” Graves noted that the company was “doing some site work, grading and landscaping, which will probably be wrapped up in the spring.”

“The substation has been in operational mode for the past couple of weeks while the equipment was being tested,” said Graves. “There was no single date when it became operational. We have been taking power from the wind farm for at least a week, if not longer, as part of the overall testing of the transmission system.”

Wims said that Deepwater Wind's substation, which is situated beside National Grid's substation, has been completed and is operational. There are two 30-megawatt transmission system cables that are connected to the two substations: Deepwater Wind’s eight-mile long submarine export cable from the wind farm site, and National Grid’s $107 million, 20-mile long sea2shore cable from the mainland.

According to National Grid, the Block Island Wind Farm needs to produce 34.5kv of wind-generated electricity for the company’s substation to sufficiently receive energy that is suitable for distribution at the local level on the island, as well as the mainland. 

The Block Island Wind Farm is situated in 90-feet of water in a high wind zone, and located three miles off the southeast coast of Block Island.