Interior Department approves Revolution Wind project in Rhode Island

Published on August 24, 2023 by Dave Kovaleski

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The Department of the Interior (DOI) has approved the Revolution Wind project, located about 15 nautical miles off the coast of Rhode Island.

The offshore wind project will generate 704 megawatts of wind power and be capable of powering nearly 250,000 homes.

The DOI approved the plan under its preferred Alternative G proposal, which was laid out in the environmental impact statement. This alternative will install fewer wind turbines than originally proposed by the developer to reduce impacts to visual resources, benthic habitat, and ocean co-users. This alternative includes up to 79 possible locations for the installation of 65 wind turbines and two offshore substations.

The decision includes a range of measures aimed at minimizing and mitigating the potential impacts. Among them, Revolution Wind will establish fishery mitigation funds to compensate losses incurred by recreational and commercial fisheries in Massachusetts and Rhode Island that arise from the project. It will also create a compensation program to reimburse lost revenues for fisheries from other states. Additionally, Revolution Wind has committed to vessel speed restrictions and construction clearance zones to reduce the potential for impacts to protected species, like marine mammals, sea turtles, and Atlantic sturgeon.

The DOI’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) developed these mitigation measures by working with tribes, federal, state, and local government agencies. It also reviewed more than 120 comments provided by industry, ocean users, and other key partners and stakeholders.

“Revolution Wind represents another step forward in achieving the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030,” BOEM Director Elizabeth Klein said. “The project’s approval underscores the Administration’s commitment to promoting domestic energy production and fighting climate change, while promoting economic growth and fostering environmental stewardship within coastal communities.”

The project is expected to create an estimated 1,200 local jobs during the construction phase.

“This project is a great example of multiple federal and state agencies coming together in a collaborative fashion to solve permitting challenges in an efficient and timely manner and can serve as a model for future projects in the pipeline,” Josh Kaplowitz, American Clean Power Association vice president of Offshore Wind, said. “Predictable permitting for offshore wind projects off the coast of New England is needed to ensure the region continues serving as a leader in offshore wind development.”

This is the DOI’s fourth approval of a commercial-scale, offshore wind energy project, along with Vineyard Wind in Massachusetts, South Fork Wind in Rhode Island and New York, and Ocean Wind 1 in New Jersey. In addition, the Biden administration has approved 18 offshore wind shipbuilding projects as well as investments of nearly $3.5 billion across 12 manufacturing facilities and 13 ports.

“Together with industry, labor and partners from coast to coast, we are building an entirely new industry off the east and west and Gulf coasts,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said.

BOEM is on track to complete reviews of at least 16 offshore wind project plans by 2025, representing more than 27 gigawatts of clean energy.